Soundislands Festival

Goal: To create a biannual event for sharing and showcasing innovative and exciting music and sound art, both research and practice, in Singapore, that connects people between the local scene and internationally.

Date: 1 January 2013

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Project log

Permagnus Lindborg
added 4 research items
Welcome to this Special Issue of Array: Proceedings of Si15, the 2nd International Symposium on Sound and Interactivity. The articles in the present issue originated in the Si15 Soundislands Festival, which was held in Singapore 18–23 August 2015. The festival events included five invited artist performances, two scientific keynotes and two days of proceedings, a commissioned sound installation, an afternoon of public talks, an internet panel, two pedagogic workshops, a concert with young performers, and more than fifty artworks and scientific papers in numerous forms and formats selected from an open call ( We are thrilled to present 20 articles, by 31 authors, emanating from Si15. The articles have been extended and thoroughly revised for this special issue of Array. They cover a range of topics related to aesthetics, percep-tion, technology, and sound art. We hope that you will enjoy the fruits of the authors' labour and therein discover many a stimulating thought.
The SI13 NTU/ADM Symposium on Sound and Interactivity in Singapore provided a meeting point for local researchers, artists, scholars and students working creatively with sound and interactivity, as well as the foundation for an issue exploring sound and interactivity in the Southeast Asian country. The School of Art Design Media of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University hosted the Symposium on Sound and Interactivity from 14–16 November 2013. A total of 15 artworks and 14 papers were selected by a review committee for presentation by 24 active participants during the three-day symposium. While all but four of the participants are residents of the island, they represent seventeen different countries, thus reflecting the cosmopolitan nature of Singapore in general and of sound artists and researchers in particular. (1) Thanks to funding from Nanyang’s CLASS conference scheme, Roger T. Dean (MARCS Institute, University of New South Wales, Australia) and Diemo Schwarz (IRCAM, France) could be invited as Keynote Speakers; they also performed in the concert that opened the symposium, and contributed to the exhibition. It is a pleasure to collaborate with eContact! in presenting a broad collection of articles emanating from this event, and to use these as a basis for an overview of sound art and related activities in Singapore. Eleven texts from the SI13 Proceedings have been edited for this issue. Joining them are two texts originally written for the catalogue of the “Sound: Latitudes and Attitudes” exhibition held at Singapore’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (7 February – 16 March 2014). Finally, in the guise of a “community report” on sound art activities in Singapore, I have contributed a “constructed multilogue” created from interviews with three sound art colleagues.
This text is a “constructed multilogue” oriented around a set of questions about sound art in Singapore. I have lived here since 2007 and felt that a “community report” should aim to probe recent history deeper than what I could possibly do on my own, in order to give a rich perspective of what is happening here today. I was very happy when Pete Kellock, Zul Mahmod and Mark Wong agreed to be interviewed. Each has a long-time involvement in the Singapore sound scene, in a different capacity. Pete is an electroacoustic music composer who has worked in research and entrepreneurship, and is a founder of muvee technologies. Zul is a multimedia artist and performer who has developed a rich personal expression, mixing sonic electronics, sculpture and robotics in playful ways. Mark is a writer and sound artist who has followed Singapore’s experimental scenes closely since the 1990s. I sent the three of them a letter containing a range of observations I had made (which may or may not be entirely accurate) and questions (admittedly thorny and intended to provoke), including the following: The geographical location and Singapore’s historic reason-to-be as a trading post has instilled a sense of ephemerality — people come and go, ideas and traditions too — as well as a need to develop contacts with the exterior. The arts scene in general seems to be largely a reflection of whatever the current trading priorities demand. In what way does the current local sound art reflect the larger forces within Singaporean society? Since art is mostly orally traded, how are its traditions nurtured and developed? Around 2010, the Government seems to have indicated a new task for cultural workers, including sound artists and musicians: to define — create or discover, stitch-up or steal — a “Singapore identity”. The Singapore Art Festival shut down two years while the think tanks were brewing. Will this funnel taxpayer money and (more importantly) peoples’ attention towards folkloristic or museal music, rather than to radical and/or intellectual sound art? At the same time, there is considerable commercial pressure to subsume music / sound listening into an experiential, multimodal, game-like and socially mediated lifestyle product. Are commercialization and identity-seeking two sides of the same coin — one side inflation-prone, and the other a possible counterfeit? Is there room for a “pure listening experience”, for example to electroacoustic music? Or is the future of sound art ineluctably intertwined with sculptural and visual elements? Different kinds of creative people involved in sound art are entrepreneurs, programmers, academics, educators, curators and journalists. Which institutions nurture talent and bring audiences to meet new experiences? Where are the hothouses for developing ideas, craft, artistry, innovation and business? The interviews, loosely structured around these themes, were made in January and February 2014. Our conversations often took unexpected turns (mostly for the better). I diligently transcribed the recordings, and each interviewee made corrections and additions, before we gently nudged spoken language a little closer to prose. I then brought out a pair of big scissors and a large pot of coffee, and made a cut-out collage, weaving the texts into the multilogue that follows. The idea has been to create an illusion of four people conversing with each other under the same roof. Deceit or not, at the very least, we all live and work on the same small island, somewhere in the deep southeast.
Permagnus Lindborg
added an update
Building on the previous three editions, in 2013, 2015, and 2017, the aim is to make Si19 Soundislands Festival a high-quality event in Singapore in 2019.
Interested parties keen to collaborate, both institutions and individual researchers/artists, drop me a line at pm - at- permagnus -dot- org.
Permagnus Lindborg
added a project goal
To create a biannual event for sharing and showcasing innovative and exciting music and sound art, both research and practice, in Singapore, that connects people between the local scene and internationally.