YoungEun Kim
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To Future Listeners I
Single-channel video, stereo sound
8 min

To Future Listeners I (2022) is a digital performance video that traces sounds from the past. It starts with a contemplation of ethnographic recordings produced by American anthropologists in the late 19th century who used phonographs to record the music and language of endangered indigenous peoples.

The song in the video is Love Song: Ar-ra-rang 1 recorded on a wax cylinder in 1896 by American anthropologist Alice Fletcher, who requested its performance by three Korean students in Washington at the time. This was apparently the first example in the history of Korean traditional music being captured with a recording medium.

A wax cylinder is frail and sensitive to environmental conditions, and thus the sounds recorded on its wax surface tend to disappear into noise over time. In the video, I repeatedly use a noise reduction plugin to keep the noise down from the song while gradually progressing toward the past. The process allows the song to play more clearly but after being perceived as noise by the software, it becomes more fragmented in an acoustic sense.

The narration was partially adapted from the Sound Studies scholar Jonathan Sterne’s essay. 

#1 Installation view at SONGEUN, Seoul (Photo by Jihyun Jung)
#2-4 Still cut

1 min Video Excerpt