Artist: AWHYIXD/Ma Nien-Hsienrturo Vittori
Location: Taipei Pop Music Center, Taipei City, Taiwan
Year: 2020
Researcher: Cheng Kang

"SoundScape” is one of the eight sub-projects of the public art installation plan "Music Utopia" at the Taipei Pop Music Center.
In "Music Utopia", four of the sub-projects were initiated through public solicitation, with a modest budget to widely invite artists from all over Taiwan, especially young artists, to participate. These projects were temporary in nature, with each presenting a small-scale work for up to a year. Of the other four sub-projects, two invited artists and musicians to collaborate, proposing art curatorial activities that include music and temporary exhibition performances. The other two, on a larger scale, invited artists to create permanent works, one of which is "SoundScape" by WHYIXD.

What's unique about the "Music Utopia" project is that while the main invitees are visual artists, each sub-project requires the artist to collaborate with a professional musician to jointly propose a creative plan. The musician must be deeply involved in the project and its content, and not just perform musical works. Especially for non-publicly solicited projects, it is specifically required that the collaborating musicians have at least been nominated or won major Taiwanese pop music awards such as the Golden Melody Awards or the Golden Sound Awards.
In this regard, "Music Utopia" can be said to be a very rare cross-disciplinary public art project in Taiwan, involving collaborations between visual artists and pop musicians, in the thirty years of public art implementation in Taiwan.""The relationship between artwork and local culture: how the particularities of a locality produce a unique dialogue within an artwork? How the artwork brings together human being’s common needs with the very specific forms of that locality? In Taiwan, there are only two major pop music centers, located in Taipei and Kaohsiung respectively. Looking back at the history of Chinese pop music, Taipei has always played a pivotal role. This pop music center situated in Nangang, Taipei, is not only one of the key projects of Taipei City's ""Eastern Gateway Plan"" but is also seen as the cornerstone for pushing the next milestone of Taiwanese pop music. Its performance hall, with a capacity of about 5,000 people, perfectly fills the need for a medium-sized music venue in Taipei.

Furthermore, pop music is arguably the performing art form closest to the general public. Therefore, the ""Music Utopia"" project aims to integrate familiar pop music elements with visual art forms, creating unique works for the residents of Taipei. ""SoundScape"", as one of only two permanent public art installations in the project, naturally hopes that visitors to the Taipei Pop Music Center can further strengthen their connection to the pop music culture that this city has nurtured from the past to the present, and even into the future.If any interdisciplinary collaboration in the artwork.The cross-border collaboration between artists and pop musicians is precisely the key focus of ""SoundScape"" and the entire ""Music Utopia"" project. Such collaborations are manifested in different forms in every piece of work within ""Music Utopia"". ""SoundScape"" is executed by the WHYIXD design team, which has experience in concert visual installation design. Building on their existing connections in the pop music industry, they invited the Golden Melody Award-winning musician Ma Nien-Hsien to jointly participate in the creation of the work.

The Creative Concept

Pop music is like the heartbeat of the city, it beats with intricate sensations, carrying abundant and intriguing cultural expressions of the era. Whenever nostalgic melodies are heard, memories of time when the song was sung are recalled by the audiences, warming up emotional memories within.

This work transforms invisible audio memories into spatial dimensions, interacting with the audiences’ memories in unique ways. Utilizing artistic creation to create a city with various expressions, enabling the audiences to go through a musical space-time corridor, reliving the good old memories of the nostalgic music.

Exhibition and Performance Method

The installation lights are scheduled to turn on daily at sunset. The work has planned three lighting scenarios that correspond to different atmospheres: with lights reflecting different moods, viewers will see different lyric arrangements in the mirrors. Every 15 minutes, a theme song performance takes place, allowing viewers from a distance to observe the changes in the artwork.

WHYIXD and Ma Nien-Hsien designed a theme song for this work based on stories of the city. The content of the sign in the artwork will correspond to the lyrics of the song, and the overall color atmosphere will also change with the music. It will be played from 5 pm to 9 pm daily (adjusted according to the opening hours of the Pop Music Center), with a performance every 15 minutes.

""SoundScape"" features two pop music works by Ma Nien-Hsien, namely ""Taipei New York"" and ""New York Taipei"". ""Taipei New York"" is an original work by the musician, while ""New York Taipei"" is a version specially remade for ""SoundScape"". Ma Nien-Hsien composed two different sets of lyrics to the same tune, resembling a dialogic confession. The two sets of lyrics are based on the mindset of his younger days and his current state of mind, respectively.


In Taiwan, the funding for public art primarily comes from 1% of the construction project budget. As a result, most art pieces are closely related to their respective sites. Artists are not allowed to use previously published works and must propose site-specific creative concepts. ""SoundScape"" is a perfect example of a site-specific creation. By closely integrating with pop music, it resonates with the spirit of the Taipei Pop Music Center, enhancing the sense of place and providing the public with a richer artistic experience.

In Taiwan, although installation art has been developed for many years, it's only in recent years that mature teams have emerged. These teams collaboratively create artworks using the latest technology and media. Artists participating in the ""Music Utopia"" public art project are among the most creative groups in Taiwan, specializing in large-scale installation art, light installations, and sound installations. As for ""SoundScape"" by WHYIXD, it is probably Taiwan's first permanent outdoor large-scale installation work co-created by visual artists and a pop singer. Its pioneering and exemplary nature is evident. Moreover, in terms of media, apart from the usual light installations, the ""polarizer"" used by WHYIXD in this work is an experimental material. It achieves the effect of reflecting text in mirrors without text on the lightbox, presenting an intriguing interplay of reality and illusion. In fact, just before completing this work, WHYIXD won the first prize in the Taipei Fine Arts Museum's X-site award for their ingenious use of polarizers.

As a unique cross-pop music domain public art creation in Taiwan, the completion of ""SoundScape"" signifies the possibility of cross-domain collaboration between artists and pop musicians and a concrete form of integrating pop music into art. For artists in Taiwan or in similar fields, it can serve as a significant model. Given the Taiwanese public's high acceptance and love for pop music, with this work as a pioneer, there will undoubtedly be more artworks with similar concepts in the future, creating more possibilities for the combination of artistic creation and pop music performance.

If we further consider its location, ""SoundScape"" is highly accessible. The Taipei Pop Music Center itself attracts a large audience (with a performance space accommodating over 5,000 people) and exhibition-goers (the ""Culture Hall"" regularly hosts various Taiwan pop music-related exhibitions). Located at the intersection of Taipei MRT Nangang Station, Taiwan Railways Nangang Station, and High-Speed Rail Nangang Station, the convenience of transportation ensures that public art pieces in this area are easily visible to the public from the outset, further amplifying the impact of this cross-domain work."

Progress Agency