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Making “Sounds” of A Double Listen Arena


What do music, art and sports have to do with one another? Find out with Toolbox Percussion on 12-21 August 2022 as they fuse elements of these seemingly unrelated subjects into an immersive experience at ArtisTree. Led by Artistic Director Louis Siu and Soundscape Designer and composer Fung Lam, A Double Listen Arena is an experiment that aims to connect the community through sound art – by marrying music with sports and games. But how? We sit down with the duo to make “sounds” of it ahead of the exciting event.


Hi Louis and Fung! First things first – what is A Double Listen Arena about?

Louis: A Double Listen is an evolving sound-based exhibition series. Each edition of it brings something new while keeping elements from past events to stay true to the heart of what we do at Toolbox Percussion – to promote contemporary percussive arts through innovative music projects.


For the upcoming ArtisTree edition, we want to encourage interaction between people through music, so we’ve used sports, particularly ball games, as the theme since they are social activities that you do in person. And turning ArtisTree into a sports arena where people can actually play with the exhibits was a natural fit – hence the event name. We’re providing a fun community experience with interactive percussive sounds and installations for visitors to discover.

We hear there will be quite a few exciting experiences as part of the programme.

Fung: Yes, in fact, there are three top things you shouldn’t miss. The first is of course the immersive exhibition – we’ve built our own “playground” here at ArtisTree where you’ll get to play with sports-inspired sound installations, accompanied by an original, multi-channel soundscape I created.


Secondly, the live performances that will also take place at this playground. I guarantee they won’t be your typical concerts! Our musicians will play excerpts of the soundscape and arrangements by American composers Philip Glass and John Cage with unusual instruments (hint: our installations aren’t just exhibits!).


LouisI’d add our creative workshops to the list as well. They’ll be around graphic notation but you don’t need any musical background – we’ll show you how to create your own music piece with everyday objects and our sound installations. It’s going to be a relaxing, fun experience for all ages.

We’re intrigued! So, what can we do when we arrive at the exhibition-slash-playground?

Louis: It’s like going to the gym: you first check-in at the counter and visit the changing room – for this occasion, this means lockers with headphones playing recordings from our past events. Then, you’ll come on to the main stage, now turned into a playground with four interactive installations and spectator seating.


We worked with set designer Kay Chan to create the installations, which we love. They integrate sounds with elements of sports, such as table tennis and basketball, in a Bauhaus-influenced design [a design style that emphasises point, line and shape]. My personal favourite is the three-tier basketball backboard – try shooting at different hoops to trigger distinct soundtracks, which Fung composed exclusively for this exhibition.

Speaking of which, can you tell us more about the original sounds and music we will hear at the show?

Fung: The soundscape at A Double Listen Arena involves multiple layers, including pre-produced music with percussive elements, as well as live sound processing. That’s something that we’re trying for the first time at an exhibition; ArtisTree’s equipment supports us to experiment with sound engineering to create a truly immersive experience.


Put simply, the soundscape changes with your interactions with the different installations, like the basketball hoops Louis mentioned and table tennis paddles that make unexpected sounds. Music can also be heard throughout. But, don’t worry – I make sure it’s not a generic piece of ambient music. It’s uplifting and rhythmic to evoke a sporty vibe, but with a twist. You’ll see – or rather, hear – when you visit!


Do you have any tips for visitors, especially the Taikoo Place community, to make the most out of their visit?

Fung: Just keep your mind and ears open, really. Those who work around Taikoo Place have very busy schedules, but even if you just come and sit down for a few minutes, there’s already something special for you to feel and listen to. But, it’ll be a different experience if you stay for an hour and immerse yourself in the ever-evolving soundscape. So yes, this also means you should come back a few times!

Louis: Bring a friend or your team to play together, or make friends on the spot! You can also bring your children to join our workshops, exhibition and performance in one go on the weekend. Docents will guide you through the experience, which we hope will show both parents and kids that music isn’t just about exams and competitions.  

Fung: That’s true. And if music and sports can come together, what other sparks can be created through cross-disciplinary collaborations? We hope this exhibition will start the conversation and inspire creative thinking among our audience and other local artists. 


A Double Listen Arena will take place from 12 to 21 August 2022 at ArtisTree – come listen to all the interesting sounds for yourself! Click here for the latest updates.
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