i composed two versions of one work earlier this year. one is “from audience” (documenta 14 radio program); one is “for audience” (the ecology of place; a cinema listening event in melbourne). for both i used only sound recordings of audiences and their environments before, during and after concerts.

recently i received “live” recordings of the latter event in which the audience in melbourne contributed their sounds into the other audience’s sounds of my composition. it’s about 27 minutes long.

the next day, september 13th 2017, i recorded this audio at my new studio in beijing. i was sitting in the space, listening to the environmental sounds and my own sounds. there’s a stereo mic set above. i tried to record my listening for 27 minutes without looking at the time. i did two takes. this is take 1.

someone knocked on the door during the recording. i muted this part as the audience (me) was out of (then back to) the situation.

for some reason the signal through the right channel of the mic was missing. i enjoy the result. with the muted section and the missing right channel the recording exhibits some characteristics of electroacoustic music.

the idea of focusing on audience was partly initiated 4 years ago. once a friend of mine argued with what i wrote on social media about audience. i said, “it’s not enough for supporting artists if you just buy a ticket and beer and stand there. not at all. the artists are supporting you.” he thought it was offensive to the audience. i explained more in my book, “the only authentic work,” that the audience should play an active role in using the artist as nutrition and energy but that book offended him even more. as a music lover with great taste he always rates what he hears and sees. he is a good critic. i started to wonder if this is the ideal audience i want to be because i always enjoy bad taste music.

the situation of the audience is very political in today’s consumptive-totalitarian society. a perfect consumer with great taste is nice for the system. in the national opera in beijing, they repeat voice recordings again and again before a concert in order to discipline the audience for good manners. similarly, rock stars and singer-songwriters on stages of outdoor festivals discipline their audiences by preparing them with optional rhythms and liberal life styles. i’m wondering how one leaves his or her previous identity and becomes part of the abstract concept of the “audience”? are there other possibilities for joining or building collective identity?

over the last year i’ve read most of peter handke’s works. the script for his play “publikumsbeschimpfung” was introduced to me as being as simple as offending the audience. i feel as though i am misrepresenting it because obviously it’s not that simple. it focuses on the identity of “audience.” it’s on the language of being and the possibility of being. but i’m also wondering why people would like to understand it in terms of the stupid relationship between artist and audience? do we not have other options besides slave and master?

i have a lot of recordings of audience, especially of the magical moment when everybody is getting quiet and the performance is about to begin. during concerts i enjoy listening to such sounds. sometimes i find the sounds of audience and environment to be more interesting than the music.

– yj

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