June 5 - October 4, 2014
“The Sound of Somaethetics:
Ken Ueno's Jericho Mouth”
An Article by Martin Jay
Jericho Mouth is a two-channel sound installation created for the Miniature Museum, a freestanding hollow wall with three apertures (making it, for me, a resonant body, an instrument like the body of a cello or a clarinet), which resides at the Inside-Out Art Museum in Beijing, China. I worked on the piece during my residency at the museum in October 2013. As I was working in the Miniature Museum during my residency, its concrete austerity and stark, existential, Beckettian physicality inspired me to respond with a sound art piece that highlights these aspects. As a vocalist, I specialize in extended techniques. One of my techniques is singing subtones. During my residency, working within the Miniature Museum, I sang and recorded sub-tones that I calibrated in a way to shake the building, make it roar. I then created a piece of custom software using the Max/MSP platform that algorithmically selects and plays different recordings of my sub-tone singing, and then algorithmically selecting a different duration before the next iteration.
The piece is loud and has to be experienced from the outside (the space within is also too small for audiences to enter), so we have waited until the warmer climate of July for the run of the installation. During the opening ceremonies, I will sing the sub-tones live from within the space. “Jericho,” of course, is a reference to the biblical story of the city of Jericho and the walls that were brought down by sound. I am happy to be collaborating again with the architect and curator, Thomas Tsang. The Miniature Museum is his design, a space purposely built for his curatorial vision. I am also indebted to and would like to thank Yi Zhou, the project director.