Minsheng Lecture Polyphony Day 1


Minsheng Lecture



Wang Changcun, Xu Cheng


Xu Cheng, Wang Changcun, Sun Wei, Zhao Junyuan, JUNKY, Mai Mai, Mei Zhiyong, Zhang Anding, RMBit

In the current exhibition held in Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, Listening to Transparency (2017), which was site-specifically curated by Centre National de Création Musicale, Lyon (GRAME), sound artworks made by five Chinese sound artists installed alongside the slope-style exhibition hall, representing the vivid landscape of sound art in contemporary China by showing the staggered lights and shadows, rhythmed breathing, and twisted tensions in the art pieces.

As the exhibition has been held for one month, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum and Play Rec co-organized a series of program called "Polyphony", which would last for two weeks and invite important sound artists and event organizers in Hangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu to share the audience with their latest artworks, projects and thoughts related to sound art.

Section I: China Soundscapes
Time: 13:30-14:30
Host: Wang Changcun   
Keynote Speakers: Sun Wei, Jun-Y Ciao, JUNKY & Xu Cheng

"Sound Beijing" held in 2003 is the first large-scaled sound art performance in Mainland China, which can be taken as the milestone event in the development of Chinese sound art history, indicating that sound art has officially come up on the stage in China. Various artists participated in the performance, including Wang Changcun, B6, Zhou Pei, Zhong Minjie, Rany Yao, Zbigniew Karkowski and Helmut Schäfer.

In the first decade during the "post-Sound Beijing" era, Chinese sound art developed automatically with little academic and social influence. For the time being, Chinese sound art is more like a polyphonic synthesizer mixed with different sounding engines, as artists of various social relationships and educational background perform on the same platform.

Section II: Wandering at the Crossroads – Sound Improvisation and Noise Experiments
Time: 14:40-16:10
Host: Xu Cheng
Keynote Speakers: Jun-Y Ciao, Mai Mai, JUNKY & Mei Zhiyong

"Noise" seems to be the most significant "icon" of contemporary Chinese experimental music, which indeed has boundaries that are unclear and are easily broken down under assumptions, as there is no absolute black or absolute white. The term "IMPROVISE" can be translated literally as "IM" (meaning "no") "PRO" (meaning "pre") "VISE" (meaning "view"):

"With no improvision, what shall we rely on during our journey? The answer is: wandering at the crossroads."

In this section, JUNKY and Mei Zhiyong, the two internationally recognized Chinese noise musicians, shared the audience with their reflections on "noise". After that, Zhao Junyuan and Mai Mai, the two most important improvisation artists and event organizers based in Shanghai, introduced the origin, development, and ways of practice of improvisation music.

Section III: Digital Space and Hearing the Truth
Time: 16:20-18:00
Host: Wang Changcun  
Keynote Speakers:Zafka Zhang & RMBit

What’s the relationship between human sensory experiences and the internet? Are the internet immersive audio-visual experiences more like a mirror image of human consciousness distorted by physical reality? Will the mentality and emotions be changed due to different medium after experience? In this section, youth culture and internet soundscape researcher Zafka Zhang and audio-visual performance group RMBit had a discussion on relevant phenomena and problems derived from “visual reality” technology and the internet immersive audio-visual experiences.

  • O / Deng Yuejun /

  • If Thinking Too Much…(No. 3) / Xiao Yu / 2015

  • Important publications on improvisation and noise music: Ornette Coleman Free Jazz: A collective improvisation (Left); Evan Parker Monoceros (Right)

  • i-Mirror / Zafka Zhang / 2007

  • On the site of RMBit’s performance

Play Rec - the cutting edge sound art & electronic music label from China

About the Speakers

Play Rec 主理人

Xu Cheng, sound artist and event organizer based in Shanghai, member of Torturing Nurse (TN), The Mustangs in Social Modulator (TMISM) and China Sonic Avant Garde, award winner of ARS Electronic 2012, Chief person of Play Rec music label.

Wang Changcun, artist working in the field of sound art, electronic music, software and internet. He has produced albums under such music labels as Sub Rosa and Post-Concrete, whose sound works have been selected in the albums such as CHINA: the Sonic Avant-garde and An Anthology of Noise: Electronic music.

Sun Wei, sound artist based in Chengdu, organizer of event series on “Audible Area Experimental Concert”. 

Jun-Y Ciao, artist working in the field of music and sonic art, curator of art projects, co-founder of music group MTDM, founder and member of Shanghai Free-Style Music Orchestra, member of artist collective COMPANY, former editor of Art World Magazine (founder of the column “1½ Tons of Music”). He is currently working as the editor of Where is the Zeitgeist?

JUNKY, founder of the leading Chinese harsh-noise music band Torturing Nurse (founded in April 2004), which has held over 210 worldwide performances and released over 360 albums under various music labels. He is also in charge of various independents music labels such as Shasha Records and Life is Absurd. He runs monthly-based noise/sound performance series NOIShanghai for over 80 shows. 

Mai Mai, screen writer, film director and experimental musician based in Shanghai. He is the founder, vocalist, guitarist and composer of experimental rock band Muscle Snog (founded in 2006 and dissolved in 2009 after releasing its first album Mindshop). He has begun to create improvisation music since 2008 and established relevant music group RESO. His film works are mainly about experimental short films, among which Four Cowards entered the shortlist of Tampere Film Festival in 2013. Since 2015, he co-operated with Jun-Y Ciao to establish and run the independent art institution Where is the Zeitgeist?. He has organized various sound art projects and performances including Windowless Scenery and Zi Zhi Liu Yao Su (Six Elements of Autonomy).


Mei Zhiyong was born in Shandong in 1984. He is an internationally well-known Chinese noise experimenter and hardware noise musical instrument DIYer. He is also active in the fields of independent film making and photography. Mei thinks that noise is a vector that can break all kinds of rules. It is only through entering the nihility that can one really escape from such contradictory relationships as sound and body, body and mind. The distinctive feature of his performance and the electric musical instruments made or reconstructed by himself in a way of hacking and circuit-bending are the icons of his performance. Since 2014, Mei has conducted various concert tours in Japan and Europe and become the new blood of noise and experimental music in Asia.

Zafka Zhang, sound artist, researcher on youth culture, co-founder of China Youthology. He advocates the political listening of urban soundscapes. His sound art works often involved with intensive ethnographic and sociological fieldwork both in online and offline urban space. He has released various electronic music albums based on his fieldtrip recording, which include Whose Utopia, YONGHE and I·Mirror. His current concerns have shifted to such topics as socialized media, new sound cultural landscape motivated by mobile internet, and multimedia art creation practices such as “Sound Theatre” series of installations and performances including “Parasitic Life/Sound” (2014) and “Ruins of Voices” (2015).

RMBit is a new media performance group founded in China in 2013. Its current members are five in total. They are Shi Zheng, Wang Zhipeng, Weng Wei, Hsiung Chengkai and Wang Qian, who specialize in interactive audio-visual live performance, program development, social media sarcasm and data mash up. Their teamwork emphasizes on the attractive and subtle relationship between audio and visual objects, which not only leads to massive sensory impact, but also invites the audience to participate in the creation process of the artworks.