Sillage | Soundscape composition (7min28) / collaborative sound work with Lina Simon | format: stereo + text 

“Chimerical sonic spaces between Hong Kong and London “


On October 2021, I was engaged in a sonic correspondence with artists living in Hong Kong and London. We were exchanging listening gems, viewed as a gift to make discover each other’s city. By letting these sounds infuse us, the desire to make these metropolises resonate together manifested itself through a series of compositions where these two spaces seem to intertwine.

These chimerical arrangements were exhibited in the virtual gallery Sound Enveloppe which is part of the SPARK Festival 2021 (British Council | Hong Kong).

My sound composition in this corpus is entitled Sillage. I had the pleasure of hybridizing my London field recordings with those from Lina Simon who is based in Hong Kong.

Work description:

Sillage (French word for wake) let flow this idea that the sounds of our surroundings leave traces in our auralities. I find it interesting to consider the possibility that we are carrying these sonic remnants much longer than the brief moment when we hear their source.

Since I moved to London last year, I can feel how this city is constantly stimulating my listening. I especially realise this when I go back to my home town near Paris where the palette of sounds is so different, a contrast which is long to process for me because I’m still hosting the echoes from the other side of the Channel.

As a foreigner, I feel very attracted by the sound of the Thames whose current is stronger than the Seine. It is probably the element that I have recorded the most in this city because I find wandering near the river has always brought a great comfort. I think the water has the ability to make our whole body feel light and to free our mind and our thoughts. Making field recordings of these spaces gives me a way to extend the duration of these pleasant waves. As the wake effect, I decided to create a sonic play of waterscapes between a collection of sounds from the river bank and the recording from a swimming pool in South East London. Creating different listening perspectives with the water is a way to depict the intimacy with the Thames River which resonates in me.

Hong Kong is still a blank canvas for my aurality, however I felt a familiar living experience when I listened to the corpus of recordings made by Lina Simon. The rustle of bamboo trees, the birdsong, the run-off from a fountain and a waterfall sounded very close to my ears, as if she bent down or looked up at something new to her. This sense of wonder seemed to me very similar to when I was discovering London through my listening.

Blending my sonic material with Lina’s new sonic marks created an assemblage with a natural ease. This layering of field recordings is setting an hybrid space between London and Hong Kong, two aural sillages/wakes which are flowing together.

I found it very touching to work with her sounds because I have this feeling that they are part of her deep relation between Hong Kong and herself.

More about Sound Envelope project:

Making and exchanging field recordings and soundscapes between Hong Kong and London

Virtual exhibition as part of SPARK 2021 online festival supported by the British Council.

Led by Ryo Ikeshiro (SoundLab, School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong) and Tom Tlalim (Centre for Creative Research, Wimbledon College of Arts, University of the Arts London), with Dawn Scarfe and András Blazsek.

Sound Envelope uses field recordings and listening as a framework for encouraging dialogue and artistic and cultural exchange between Hong Kong and London – cities that are geographically remote but share a long history. The act of listening attentively whilst recording, playing back and mixing field recordings can make one attuned to subtle variations in our everyday sound environment, and become receptive to those of others. The title references the Asian tradition of giving money in envelopes, to wish for well-being and good fortune. The project is built on the notion of giving sounds as a gift, as a framework for artistic collaboration and exchange.

A diverse group of residents from Hong Kong and London including students from the City University Hong Kong and the University of the Arts London took part in workshops on sound and listening and created field recordings in their vicinity. The recordings were then shared amongst the participants in order to listen to a variety of sound worlds from the two cities to initiate conversation on their lives and experiences. Using the shared field recordings from Hong Kong and London, each participant has created a soundscape, presented here in a virtual exhibition. Visitors are free to click on the images in order to listen to each soundscape separately, or to walk around the exhibition space to hear an immersive mix of soundscapes close by.