Two Inadequate Voices


2IV is a platform for image-makers to recount and reflect textually on their stories of being out in the world whilst photographing.

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Sheng-Wen Lo 
Extendable Ears (2019-2020)

While living with friends, I realised ‘noise’ is subjective: what’s music for me may be torturing for others. Likewise, noise is species-dependent: animals including dogs, cats, bats and insects can hear ultrasound (frequency above 20 KHz) beyond human’s hearing range. However, the fact that we cannot hear ultrasound does not prevent us from producing it: we use appliances, tools and vehicles — the manufactures of which only measure operation noises in ‘audible’ frequency range.

I wondered — am I producing ultrasound noises unintentionally and annoying other species? Am I living in ultrasound-rich societies? To find out, I made a wearable device which transforms ultrasound (20~70 KHz) to audible ranges, allowing my ears to register sound frequencies similar to cats.

I decided to wear this device for one month (24/7), feeding ultrasound noise to my ears to see if I would go crazy. Surprisingly, I found myself starting to have bizarre dreams; I recorded them in a diary.

17th July,  Wednesday: Sunny till the typhoon began

Kenting National Park: Nanwan (South Beach) -> Sheding Park -> Fongchuisha (Windblown Sand)

*Last day of wearing the ultrasound converter

-      I was in my high school. A group of people gave me a huge frozen fish. I put it in water to unfreeze it. Very slowly, the fish started to move; eventually, it came alive. Then, they gave me a frozen rabbit – I also put it in water to unfreeze. It also came back alive; they were alive all the time! The teacher said it was a great day to do this experiment since there was no class that day. (A similar incident did happen when I was 13 years old, while I did my hermit crab school project. During that process, a tiny crab escaped and somehow ended up in my freezer at home. I thought it was dead when I found it, but then after it unfroze, it started running super-fast!)

-      I dreamt that I designed a new bat ultrasound converter, including lots of features people wanted.

Daytime Activities:

Walked almost 30km, from Nanwan (South Beach) to Fongchuisha (Windblown Sand), passing through Sheding Park, where I was chased by a huge Taiwanese monkey (Taiwan Macaque). I like the feeling of walking, even though I was a little sick. I have never been to Fongchuisha (Windblown Sand), and the view was spectacular. I planned to take a bus on my return journey, but surprisingly there was no service during summer holidays. So, I had to walk all the way back. I even walked off road in the wilderness; it was getting darker and darker, and a huge typhoon was approaching. Very scared. Luckily, I found the original path I traversed. Walking with a flashlight, I watched the lightnings sprawling in the clouds, and slowly navigated myself back to Nanwan (South Beach).

Sheng-Wen LO (b. 1987, Taiwan) is based in the Netherlands. His work investigates the relationships between non-humans and contemporary society, often taking daily experiences as points of departure. As a maker, his practice comprises still/moving images, installations, video games, escape rooms and various media. He is currently an artist in residence at the Rijksakademie(2019-2021) in Amsterdam.