Conditions of Enablement of Sound Practices in Hong Kong and Manila

Dayang Yraola

While sound practices in Hong Kong and Manila operate separately, this research studies how they are interlinked by the factors that have enabled their practices, respectively. I claim that sound practices in Hong Kong and Manila share distinct characteristics that allow inter-referencing to be adopted as an effective tool in approaching the problem at hand. Sound practice for both Hong Kong and Manila is uniquely located in the interstice of music and art—allocation where their distinct form, history and ethics are entangled with those of music and art. I argue that this unique location of sound practice is brought about by the conditions that have enabled it contextually. Among these conditions were the earlier encounters between Hong Kong and Manila—through artist exchanges and events or gatherings such as exhibits, festivals and conference since the 1960s. With these encounters, direct relations can be traced to the current practices of sound art by virtue of organizational, conceptual or ideological affinity. It is then proposed that sound practice is to be understood, not as an autonomous art movement, but one that is a product of the society where it emerges.

Besides historical connection, focus is given to expounding three factors that enable the sound practices at issue—movement in technology, DIY culture, and different discourses in the art world. Movements in technology or periodical waves of technology developments have enabled the evolvement of forms or developments of different sound art projects. DIY culture is a lifestyle movement where practitioners get inspiration on how they organize themselves as communities in relation to or despite the prevailing art market. Meanwhile, various discourses in the contemporary art world in Asia, concerning both music and visual arts, have enabled conditions where sound projects are understood to be a tradition, an expression, a representation, or a commodity, among others. Specific manifestations and interventions of these three factors, from early 1990 until mid-2010s, are identified and analysed vis-à-vis the current conditions of the practice. The research will show that it is within the constellation of these three enabling factors that the sites of practice are shaped and the ethics of the practice moulded. In conclusion, I discuss how sound practice may continue to grow, and how it may further develop.