Posts archived in Artworks

In December, 2011, I visited a protest outside of the Credit Suisse offices in Manhattan to make sound recordings. Below is the podcast that resulted. The event was staged against that day’s military contracting meeting, hosted by Credit Suisse, but connections to Occupy Wall Street were evident on many levels, from the organization of the protest to the perceptions of observers.

Image from edgeoforever.wordpress.com

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The sixth and final installment of my podcast series “Bangkok is Ringing” is online now at Triple Canopy. Or, listen to it right here.

This last episode takes us through some of the distinct sonic spaces of the 2010-2011 Red Shirt protests. The diversity of these spaces tells us something important about the movement, namely that it’s heterogeneous. The language of protest movements is often compressed by the media until it fits a single index of complaint – unequal rights, no jobs, censorship – and the Red Shirt movement was no exception. But protests are rarely that simple. People have all kinds of motivations for turning to dissent, and protesters often disagree with each other. Such (very normal) internal difference (see: Wall Street, Occupy) is taken by some as a signal that movements are disorganized, or at the extreme even pointless.

We might have to work a little harder to find patterns, but there are always patterns. History, anyway, will sort things out one way or another. But we can understand a lot in our own time. In the case of the Red Shirt protests, they raged with noise always, and that noise (music, speeches, conversation, etc.) was rich in meaning. The question is, what did we hear?

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Throughout the year, I’ve kept a running list of Thai words that relate to sound and listening, jotting down notes from interviews and books, and going through sections of the dictionary page-by-page. It turns out that the Thai language has piles of vocabulary to describe the sonic environment, from the poetic to the precise, from the inexplicable to the sublimely local. While I’m not sure if this language is better equipped than English to discuss sound, it certainly covers some idiosyncratic territory.

The list below is a small selection of what I’ve collected so far:

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The fourth installment of the ongoing podcast series, Bangkok is Ringing, is up now at Triple Canopy.

Or listen to it right here:
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Canal

In the evening, when the tide ebbs in the gulf, the canal gets low and the water under the house dries up. The dogs and the crabs run around in the mud. The cats eat the crabs.

In the morning, dew gushes down the spout and drips hard on the planks, pooling under the house. The tide comes in and the canal fills up. The wood rots and gets eaten by termites. The owner replaces the wood.

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Klong Toey Market

Klong Toey market is a sprawling way station for something like half of the produce that reaches Bangkok’s restaurants every day, and no small amount of its meat and home goods either. Industrial-sized clear garbage bags full of limes are tossed from the backs of trucks, palettes of morning glory and parsley block the footpath, and whole pigs dangle freshly- Read the rest of this entry »

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The third installment of the ongoing podcast series, Bangkok is Ringing, is up now at Triple Canopy.

Or listen to it right here:
Read the rest of this entry »

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Sepak Takraw is a Southeast Asian sport that appears too hard for me to play. A rattan ball is volleyed over a raised net using any part of the body except the hands and arms. The name “Sepak Takraw” splits the difference between how Malaysians and Thais refer to the game.

The recording doesn’t sound like much on computer speakers, but with stereo separation (such as on headphones) the lateral motion of the volley is strongly pronounced. And the ball makes a cool noise when it rolls.

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Last week, PD and I went to a carnival near Din Daeng. The main attraction was an outdoor Lam Sing performance starring จีรพันธ์ แว่นระเว่ and วัชราภรณ์สมสุข, which was just getting good when a heavy rainfall ended the night prematurely. Here is a snippet of the show, complete with a dramatic build-up and some positive mid-song adjustments to the mix:

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Thailand’s rainy season is May to October. During these months, a handful of intense monsoon storms make the rice grow. Then from November to February, farmers reap their crops.

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