-- 以誌亡母李鑽銘 –
– In memory of my mother, Lee Chuen Ming –
二零一二年四月至五月，聲音掏腰包，香港 ｜ Apr-May 2012, soundpocket, Hong Kong
A room occupied by sounds of my mother’s last days from the diagnosis of cancer to the very last minute. The room documents and reconstructs the memories and emotions in the period, unravelling the complex relations between mother, cancer, death, family and self.
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Background and Recording
In April 2010, my mother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, which had spread to the brain and other parts of the body. Doctors anticipated she would live for a few more years the longest.
I am not sure whether I wanted to distract, mourn, make fun of, or just to record my mother’s mumbling speech because of tumour in her brain – every time I met with my mother since then, a recorder was placed beside to inscribe every instant of the limited period. As time went by, the recordings accumulated became a documentation of my mother, myself and my family in the period. This is also, unfortunately, a record of cancer and death.
I did not ponder over the “intention” of the recordings, nor have I thought about when the activity was to end. Later, the idea of exhibiting the recordings when my mother was still alive emerged – but it was too late. It ended with the death of my mother in October 2011. The only remains are the some three hundred recordings.
This important, obscure and chaotic period was a period of drastic change with much left unclear. Some time after my mother’s death, I opened the recordings and started to listen.
The recordings contain a time and person that would inevitably fade and be forgotten. Although it’s a period that I vividly experienced, the recordings seem to embed an unknown world yet to be explored, independent from all emotions and memories, containing legacies to be studied. The obscure sorrow became concrete. The happiness, anger, sadness, and joy, and my mother’s wish, motto, grief and everything of her under the so very foreseeable death reappeared. These are not only hers, but also mine, my families and probably everyone around. The recordings are the most genuine legacies of my mother. They enable my mother and this period to be the subjects of contemplation.
Based on memory and rough notes and diaries, I searched for the recordings on events to listen: mother having gamma knife, the last dinner for Winter Solstice etc. The most remarkable change was my mother’s voice deteriorated with the disease.
The recordings embed repeated patterns of dialogues and themes, each of which represents a different face of the period, interwoven with worries, quarrels, hopes, visits to doctors and trivia. I extracted these patterns and themes and arrange them chronologically. Thirteen few-hour long sound sequences were thus created. Every sequence is a crystal of the period with its own characters.
Each sequence is a legacy of my mother with different characters: some sound long-winded; some sound hysterical; some may just sound trivial. Each sequence is played by a speaker, shape, size, location and volume of which are decided by the unique characters of the sequence and relations with other sequences. The speakers fill this whole room with thick strata of sound to be (re-)tasted, reconstructing the complex of mother, cancer, death, my family, myself and others. The work creates a personal experience not easily transferable or mediatable — it has to be experienced in situ.
In the end, I realise re-organising the thoughts and memories of my mother and this period can never be completed.
(Revised May 2014)
還記得，有個朋友首次問起家母的病時，家母已過身半年 — 她並不知情。她聽後一臉愕然悲慟，我還拍了她膊頭，對她說：It’s okay！之後，她好像到洗手間拭淚。
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My character refrained me from telling my friends about my mother’s issue. My impassive face concealed my feelings, so enshrouded that I sometimes wondered if I were actually sad. After my mother was dead, it seemed unnecessary to talk about it anymore. When I was with others, as my mother’s issue was so well covered, I always felt like as if the whole incident had never happened.
One friend asked about my mother’s sickness after she has passed away half a year. She knew nothing about my mother’s situation and was well shocked. ‘It’s okay!’ I comforted her. Then, apparently, she ran into the toilet to dry her tears.
Expression in words has always been my weakness. Most of the time I feel I am exaggerating, understating or simply saying something irrelevant, not conveying what I really think or feel. To me, artwork may be a much direct, powerful and precise expression.
I invited my friends to the exhibition opening. I felt relieved, as if I had disclosed something hidden for long.
Among other caring and encouraging comments, three comments stayed in my mind:
i) This resembles the feeling that time is always not enough with a dying family member;
ii) This is like a brain with fragments of memory floating;
iii) You want to create a monument of your mother with sound.
These comments seem to help me understand what I was trying to do.
After two years, I surprisingly find myself still frightened of revisiting the work. It is true that the thoughts and memories of my mother and this period will not disappear but transform over time.
Treasure everything we have.
聲音資料庫 Recording Archive: http://yipkaichuns.com/incompletefinale/
筆記 Note (in Chinese only):
支持 Supported by:
香港藝術發展局 Hong Kong Arts Development Council
技術支援 Technical Support:
王鎮海 Wong Chun Hoi