👂Inner Ear 內耳

Cosmopolitics in Sound 聲音裡的宇宙政治 ◎Sheryl CheungInternal
Motivations 內部運動 ◎A Workshop by Sheryl Cheung, participants Anja Borowicz and Harriet Pittard
Electric Phantom 電魂 ◎Itaru Ouwan
Meridian of Fortune 財經二周天 ◎TEIHAKU
Terms* 條款* ◎Chun Yin Rainbow Chan & Craig Stubbs-Race
Gentle Steps Tainan 躡步台南 ◎Nigel Brown
Amplified trumpet, Propellers, Metal and Air 電聲小號、螺旋槳,金屬和空氣 ◎Sound of the Mountain
Year  年 ◎Jin Sangtae

2024_Inner Ear

Sonic Battlefield of Virtuous Character

Sheryl Cheung

Originally published by SCREEN  

Outer Pulsation #6, Dino x Sheryl Cheung, 2019, Taipei underpass.

“Sound can be very immediate, when you are on a battlefield, when you are facing death, it is not a matter of visual signals—you hear sound first. And perhaps, when in doubt, you will look for the source of the sound and stare at it, deciphering whether what you heard was real or not. Of course, there are those who are more visually-oriented, but the majority of ordinary people listen first, and use their eyes to seek validation. And that is something very unromantic.” -Dino1

Over the years, Dino's enigmatic notion of "romantic listening" has resonated with me, urging a departure from contextual noise that distracts the listener from embracing the raw, unfiltered nature of sound. It calls for a willingness to trust the immediacy of auditory stimuli, allowing our hearing to shape a reality that transcends the constraints of the visible world. This departure from the conventional order of perception suggests a profound shift in the way we engage with and interpret the world around us, highlighting the potential for a more visceral and unmediated connection with our surroundings.

To reach this auditory proximity to truth, Dino once quoted Confucius to describe what he does as a noise performer, “to live with unquestionable virtue..to end at one’s own excellence.2” With the time on stage by nature finite, Dino insisted each performance was an end to itself. To achieve excellence on stage is to enter a state of clear moral being and act by unquestionable goodness. He defined this goodness as a way of living in which all calculations are suspended and reflexive habits dulled. Fellow Taiwanese transdisciplinary artist and writer Lin Chi-wei once associated Dino’s sound practice with the traditional motive to detach oneself from worldliness, “What truly supports the value of "literati" is their life attitude…to transcend the entanglement between desire and reality, and allow the ‘real’ natural energy to flow into the small crafts of the world.3

To align oneself with this immediate energy of life, Dino’s music can be best described as a wandering consciousness of will pitted against the invisible phenomenon of noise. There is no thinking and only doing as he “suppresses the never-ending feedback4” running through his no-input set of audio mixer and analog effect pedals. In face of the raw force of electronic noise-both as his phenomenological opponent and creative material- he controlled sound in a manner to cultivate his moral character. In his self-recorded tape “Song of Death” from 1997 5, a wet, rhythmic pulse continuously runs through his electronic circuit with effortless fluidity and resurfacing with a changing facade, like a meditation on transformation. Dino continued this alchemic process between the sound and self in varying dynamic range throughout his career. Of the few times I saw him on stage, Dino would perform with such understated showmanship, sitting still with minute hand movements tinkering analog controls. As a listener, it was easy to forget about his mortal corporeality. During his shows, I would often stare into the ceiling as sound embodied the space to realize itself as what 19th century philosopher Józef Maria Hoene-Wroński defined music as “the corporealization of intelligence that is in sound.6

Group photo at Dino’s residence in 2019 (from left to right: Jyun Ao Ceasar, Sheryl Cheung, Dino)

In a solo performance at Revolver in 20187, a spattering of electronic feedback emerged, transformed, overlapped and/or died out before forming any definable structure. Between the original trigger and its shadows, space slowly opened up into a trance-like melody that emerged like a phoenix. Even as a recording, the listening experience causes a sense of spatial disorientation. Dino explained, “The kind of music I do is simple…only the first beat of sound you hear is real and the rest is fake, created by effects.8” As a listener, Dino’s psychoacoustic motivation created a flux state of consciousness that suspended my cognitive reflexes as a listening body, where it became difficult to ground perception in any other dimension other than sound.

In a Taipei underpass, I had a chance in 2019 to perform with Dino as part of Outer Pulsation, a guerrilla noise series organized by Chia-Chun Xu and folks from Senko Issha9. Culturally referencing the traditional Qigong anecdote to perceive the inner body as a pastoral landscape, I ran found recordings of rubble, metal and water through different filters and gates back and forth, at times to rub out their material references to reality, and in other moments seeking to build color with different elemental timbres. Meanwhile, Dino manipulated his no-input feedback into a high-pitched reed-like pressure as if playing a suona. He continued to play in this improvisational manner without melody or narrative, insisting on a minimalism that was searching for an opportunity for pure encounter. In moments when sounds were most indescribable and formless, sonic trajectories of power found space for conversation. 

Dino’s romantic sentiment about sound provides an opportunity to trust in its boundlessness and seek direct engagement with its dynamic, transformative power. As described by Lin, “In the midst of chaos, Dino crafts a unique calm and simplicity that emanates from nowhere—an endless, yet intriguing silence that defines the very essence of music10.” Dino's approach to listening is an invitation to step into a realm where sound becomes the medium for profound, unspoken conversations with the self and the universe.

* All the photos are taken by Xia Lin.

1 Cheung, Sheryl. “Gentle Sweeps in a Deep Abyss: Interview with Dino.” Art Asia Pacific, March 26, 2019. https://artasiapacific.com/ideas/gentle-sweeps-in-a-deep-abyss-interview-with-dino

2 Kaplan, Kyle. 2017. “Made Here - Dino.” YouTube Website. Retrieved Dec 7, 2023. (http://youtube.com).

3 My original translation of Lin Chi-Wei’s “The Frame of Modernity and Beyond – The Lifework of Hsieh Tehching, Hsieh Ying-Chun, Wu-Chong-Wei, Graffitist Hwang, DINO and Tsai-Show-Zoo,” 2013. http://www.linchiwei.com/archives/1777

4 Kaplan. Ibid.

5 誠意重, 2021. “Dino 廖銘和 - Song of Death 死亡之歌 (1997).” YouTube Website. Retrieved Dec 3, 2023.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eF8YUz3wt1Y&t=905s.

6 Edgar Varese in his essay “The Liberation of Sound”  Chou, Wen-chung (Eds.) The Liberation of Sound. Perspective of New Music, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Autumn - Winter, 1966), pp.19. https://music.arts.uci.edu/dobrian/CMC2009/Liberation.pdf

Dino, Senko Issha Live. Senko Issha, Nov 17, 2018. https://senko-issha.bandcamp.com/album/senko-issha-live

8 Cheung, Ibid.

9 誠意重, 2023. ”Outer Pulsation #6, Dino 廖銘和 x Sheryl Cheung 2019.8.10.” YouTube Website. Retrieved 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd9sGa4ba8Y&t=693s

10 My original translation of Lin’s Chinese text. Lin. Ibid.

Other references

TKG+ Projects. 2023. “TKG+ Projects|物・自・造・_ creN/Ature|Dino X 吳牧青 Wu Muching.” Youtube Website. Retrieved 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0IiT_-lZdA

Dawang, Huang. “Slowly Circling Around on a Bicycle: Dino and His Era of Noise.” Feb 29, 2022. Artouch. https://artouch.com/art-views/content-58691.html

Jyun Ao Caesar. “Underground Experimental Music in Taiwan.” Laoban Records. Oct 25, 2020. https://www.laobanrecords.com/post/underground-experimental-music-in-taiwan

Chia-Chun Xu. ”Re-think the Vitality of the Local Audio Scenes in The Post-Pandemic Era.“ Noman’s Land. Feb 12, 2023. https://www.heath.tw/nml-article/re-think-the-vitality-of-the-local-audio-scenes-in-the-post-pandemic-era/


☯ Sheryl Cheung
Sheryl Cheung works between experimental sound compositions, abstract scoring and performances to explore a material concept of life. Perceiving life as a force, a mobility that drives our innate persistence to live, she explores how active listening (working with sound) can be a mind and body practice to negotiate different noises of the world.