Immersive installation with multi-channel projections and audio and TV monitor
Based on interviews with ethnic Koreans in Japan
Onomatopoeia are especially common in Japanese and Korean. Whereas their use in Indo-European languages is often considered superficial and childish and limited to providing effect, it provides a rich source of vocabulary integral to the East Asian languages where their use is much more common and varied. There are also many “ideophones” in both languages to describe phenomena which do not produce sounds e.g. how things look, feel, smell or taste, as well as emotions.
Being literally untranslatable at times, they could be considered as examples of sounds contributing to the notion of Otherness of East Asia in general. They also operate in a symbolic realm not entirely based on conventional semantics. The practice of making the inaudible audible developed over centuries provides a fruitful source for rethinking sound and its presence beyond language and the purely symbolic.
The work was developed during a Fellowship at the Centre for Contemporary Art Kitakyushu, Japan. It features interviews with ethnic Koreans, the biggest ethnic minority group in the country. New ideophones combining expressions in Korean and Japanese have been created from those used by an interviewee originally from Busan to describe his experiences of his sense of “place” from relocating to Fukuoka and Kitakyushu.
Dr Youngjin Ryu of Kitakyushu City University
Photos by Ryo Ikeshiro / Tina Yeung