Sept – Oct 2021
London Chinese Community Centre
Listening Hands is an artist’s film devised and created by Joseph Young in collaboration with Vitafilms. Listening Hands explores the links between the T’ai Chi Ch’uan movement form and a series of field recordings made in southern China. Joseph collaborated with a Tai Chi master and group from London Chinese Community Centre to film a performance in Chinatown’s main square on 1st September 2021.
The story of Listening Hands is a circular one, one that started at Park 19 Arts Space in Guangzhou and eventually ended back there, somewhat by chance rather than design. In Spring 2019, during a research trip in preparation for the Interbeing project, Joseph gave a short public performance of field recording based sounds using his custom-designed Sonic Baton. The baton is a technological innovation he developed in partnership with Dr Mike Blow and the performance was by way of saying thank you to our hosts at the end of the short residency. Comments afterwards from audience members likened the slow, meditative performance language, whereby sounds are mixed live and real-time, as similar to the movement tradition of T’ai Chi and so an idea was born for a film exploring the common visual languages of an ancient Chinese artform and an unusual style of sound art performance.
The original plan had been to return to Park 19 in summer 2020 and, working with a local film maker, to shoot, edit and screen the film during the course of another short residency. Covid interrupted that possibility and another way of making the film had to be found. We were lucky to source a new partner at short notice – the London Chinese Community Centre, based just around the corner from Leicester Square in central London. We worked with them to devise a new scenario whereby a public T’ai Chi class was held in the main square of Chinatown, accompanied by Joseph conducting live sounds recorded in Guangdong Province. Film maker Roswitha Chesher and her assistant captured the proceedings and together we created a two-screen installation which portrays and contrasts the movements of John Wing Leung, the resident Tai Chi master, side-by-side with Joseph’s Sonic Baton performance. It is a slow, visual meditation, uniting two cultures through sound and movement.
A single screen version of the film was premiered on October 3 at the Chinese Community Centre, and in a last-minute moment of inspiration, we contacted Park 19 and asked if they would like to show the film on the same day, as a way of acknowledging their support, which they did.
London Chinese Community Centre
2 Leicester Court, London WC2H 7DW
1st September 12pm
Tai Chi participatory event in Chinatown main square, Gerrard St, London
3rd October 1pm (BST)
London Chinese Community Centre, 2 Leicester Court, London WC2H 7DW
5th October 3pm (CST)
Park 19 Arts Space
No 19 Mountain Village Park
Liwan District Guangzhou
LISTENING HANDS FILMING DAY
Inter-being is a Buddhist concept that comes from the Heart Sutra and, in the context of the Interbeing project, explores the cultural connections between two seemingly very different cultures, the UK and China. By starting from a point of similarity rather than distance, we hope to foster and encourage a deeper understanding between artists from the two countries, especially at this time when the challenges of Covid-19 are pressing us towards more open international collaboration.
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