Out Of Our Heads (OOOH!) – A mini-festival of personalized listening

Date & time/

30/5/2020 | 7:30pm

6/6/2020 | 7:30pm


Hong Kong Arts Centre

Alain Chiu

Alex Yiu

Cheuk Wing Nam
Chi-hin Leung

Edwin Lo

Fiona Lee
Larry Shuen

Lee Cheng

Vvzela Kook

From the social movement that started last summer to the pandemic that’s still very much a developing situation, the city finds itself challenged like never before. Routines and ways of life we once took for granted are now prohibited. Lives, as well as values, are at stake. The worst pandemic of a generation has given birth to a range of novel social rituals: the coming together of the hands for san- itization at entrances, the masks that are worn like talismans, the hesitant elbow bump. What used to be a ritualized exchange of pleasantries (“I hope you are doing OK”) have taken on a new weight. Even when pleasantries are just that – casual, routine, ritualized remarks – they are still important in that, like prayers, or talismans, they point to a better world that could have been under better circumstances. Each time we say ‘thank you,’ or light a candle at a vigil, or cast a vote at the ballot box, we are renewing our commitment to these better worlds, and reminding ourselves that we fall short of the best versions of ourselves.

Music is related to ritual in at least two important ways: musical form resembles the structure of ritualized actions, and music is inte- gral to many rituals. Music’s meaning, like that of a ritual, is also social in the sense that it is never created by the performer alone. In response to these very difficult times, we want to double down on our commitment to the ritual of musical performance, to the gathering of people, to assembly.

The Hong Kong Arts Centre and Contemporary Musiking Hong Kong (CMHK) have assembled a program of excellent local composers and sound artists, who have taken on the challenge of responding to the new reality of social distancing. In fact, this mini-festival seeks to appropriate this new reality, and turn it into an opportunity to create intensely inti- mate exchanges at close proximity. In these performances, each performer will be performing to only one audience member. This means that the festival will be experienced only by a very small number of audiences, which, under ‘normal’ circumstances as dictated by economic rationalism, would be seen as a lack. Audiences will be shuttling between performance stations that are sit- uated at various locations within the Hong Kong Arts Centre. All works are to be experienced via headphones, in real time, and together with the artist who created it. 

Artists including Alain Chiu, Alex Yiu, Cheuk Wing Nam, Edwin Lo, Fiona Lee, Larry Shuen, Lee Cheng, Michael Chi-hin Leung, and Vvzela Kook have all created brand new work for this setting. These personalized listening ex- periences will hopefully renew our commitment to the ritualized and social aspects of musical performance, to its openness of mean- ings, to its necessity always but especially in times like these, and to music’s ideal form: a civility of shared listening that comes to us through another person’s ear canal, which, is possibly to only way out of our own heads.

Concert 1: Social contracts
Date: 30 May 2020 (Sat)
Time: 1930 – 2030; 2100 – 2200

The first program of all brand-new works focuses on notions of distance and proximity. From literal chains to virtual synchronicity, from a whispered conversation, to the poetic intimacy of shared lost time, to the clinical distance of a scientific experiment, the artists and their works call into question our assumption of what might be considered ‘too close for comfort.’

ArtistProgram (All world premieres)Alex YiuI have done it againEdwin LoTime Regained (Music for the Lost Time)Larry ShuenConversation ErrorsChi-hin LeungSyncVvzela KookBaaseline Test

Concert 2: Go beyond go completely beyond
Date: 6 June 2020 (Sat)
Time: 1930 – 2030; 2100 – 2200

This program explores the idea of travel and motion in times of movement restriction. Forward motion, repetition in-loop, entry and exit, emergence and disappearance – the artists in this con- cert and their works remind us that journeys - actual or fictitious, directed or aimless – are all potentially transformative.

ArtistProgram (All world premieres)Alain ChiuFicticious EntryCheuk Wing NamConora Can't Stop MeFiona Leein a loop, how far we could go beyondLee ChengWhere have all the ____ gone?