[June 24 – June 27] Zhang Yousheng: The formation of the Worm

There aren’t many artists still using no-input mixer as the main instrument to make noise especially in the laptop age. You-sheng Zhang (aka. Sovietronic), explores the structures, changes, patterns and layers of sound or noise with no-input mixer. No-input mixer is a feedback machine that we can easily assemble by every given mixer, wires and amplifiers. Through it, we can find that sound exists before us and we can only shape or carve rather than create it. [Limited to 15-20 participants]

Performance at AMMI June 28 2015, 5:00pm
Workshop at Harvestworks June 24 – June 27, Wed – Fri 7:00 – 9:00 pm & Sat. 3:00 – 5:00 pm
The American Museum of the Moving Image, DLS

There are two ways to make feedback. One is making it through air. Many guitarists in rock bands do it by drawing their pickups of electric guitars close to amplifiers. That the microphones of a speaker on the stage get the sound from amplifiers not only the speaker is the same situation. The feedback has its own life – that is, when we hear it – through the air when the circuit is complete from the input of microphone/pickup to the output of amplifiers. This is quite common in ordinary life. Our policy is always getting rid of it. Feedback = noise = garbage. If someone feels it is kind of cool, they just treat it as an adornment in one song like every normal guitarist does – you seldom hear any guitarist’s solo full of feedback.

Let’s make it opposite and treat feedback as a normal sound and even sound per se. Then we have the other way to make it. Take instrument or device as long as it has two couples of outputs and one (couple of) input. One of the output couples is connected to speakers in order to make you and audience listen. The other one is connected directly back to that input. This time feedback gets its own life through electronic flow without air. When this simple procedure is done, sound already exist no matter you hear it or not. It is wandering in the wires and device. Then you turn on the speakers and your device in which the feedback is complete. Mixers are good choice to be that device because it could show at least three aspects of the life of the feedback sound: low, mid, hi frequencies. If you want to broaden its life, just add some effective pedals. Now you have a feedback machine and you can perform with it if you know how to control it and compose a simple paragraph – without melody.

Frankly, it is an old-school way to make sound because its result depends on the difference of the device you choose including the brand and series of mixers and even electric current the place you stay. There are too many accidents and interventions when you play it. However, it shows a totally different logic from normal way to “play”. When you play some instruments like pianos or violins, the input is the place and moment your finger touches it and the output is perhaps the resonance chamber. It is a linear (inout→output) development. But the sound in the feedback machine we assemble is a circular development, so you can’t ask for a 100-percent-accurate presence according to your given plan or score. Output is always added to its origin, the input. Where is the sound source? We see only sound exists and develops.

Therefore, we are not creating ex nihilo but just reproduce it. “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.” Marx said in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Here, “sound/noise” could be a substitute for “history”. It is more like the concept of sculpture. The material is given in front of and before us. We can only use the sound to make sound. This is why this method is materialist and the original model of many sound experimental actions. Sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan (R.O.C.) and Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.


A no-input noise artist, theatre music design, critic and organizer from Taipei. I was a guitarist in a rock band from 2002 to 2007. Since 2009, I have founded a label called Kandala Records that try to release sound works of mainly Taiwanese noise artists and musicians doing improvisation. In 2011, I collaborated with Dawang Yingfan Huang under the name Minkoku Hyakunen (民国百年) which got the honorary mentions of ‘Digital Musics and Sound Art’ of Prix Ars Electronica 2012.

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