As one of the largest migrant populations in the world, Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta region represent an urban cultural collage of unprecedented scale. Developed at an unparalleled speed, the vast cultural pluralism is however minimally reflected in the physical urban landscape. Modern, repetitive and commonplace structures represent homogeneity; yet house a massively dynamic heterogeneous society. As a further reflection of a misrepresented uniformity, the large-scale production industries the region has developed around too generate products of cookie cutter sameness. Transcending visual boundaries, the city soundscape however expands beyond the more generic urban infrastructural scaffolding. Where architecture can give the illusion of sameness and finality, soundscapes tend to be less tamed, more fluidly dynamic and citizen determined.
As a representation of this dualistic existence, composed of 1,000+ identical music box mechanisms, TOPOTEK 1’s Cacophony Collage, masked in manufactured uniformity, is a sonic pastiche. Mass-produced in Dongguan, the components are visually indistinguishable, yet the turning of the individual music box key reveals an array of inner auditory diversity. Produced in the classic music box acoustical tone and melodies, each mechanism discloses a familiarity and emanates a childhood intimacy. Arranged in mass by collaborating composer Rebecca Saunders, the individual melody is however orchestrated as an instrumental tune within in a larger auditory composition.
Powered strictly by user interaction, as collaborating authors, Collage City visitors provoke the newfound collective melody -generating a continually evolving cacophony. As such, a visitor on any given day to the Biennale will be exposed to an entirely unique sonic compilation. The acoustic milieu and assemblage is thus dynamic and respondent to the interaction and migration of people through space and time -reflective of the realities and social dynamics of the city of Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta region.
Lunch at Shenzhen Foxconn Plant
New housing developments rise in Shenzhen
Shenzhen Christmas Tree Factory (National Geographic)
Workers in Foxconn plant
Chinese Migration Patterns