Samson Young's aesthetically powerful and scientifically precise works, with historical and social references and conflicts, move at the intersection of philosophy, literature, performance, and the recent history of audiovisual convergence. Young composes multidisciplinary spaces that oscillate between sound and image. His exhibition at the Kestner Gesellschaft consists of two multichannel sound and video installations and 3D sculptural works, investigating a phenomenon of the so-called "situated listening".
The Travelers and the Listeners (installation version), 2023, (Hall 1), is a collage of six musical films structured on the basis of Walter de la Mare's short poem The Listeners (1912). Samson Young not only thematizes the figure of the Traveler who knocks on the door with an urgency, but he also refers to the intangible, the unrequited and yet attentive, which stands behind the door. The poet Angela Leighton remarks:
"[Walter de la Mare's The Listeners] asks that crucial question about poetry in general: who listens, and what does it mean to listen to the silence of the poem on the page, which is a silence always still asking to be voiced [...] Hearing things in that house of poetry may lead to ghosts and phantoms, or to the memorable rhythm of urgent knocks, or perhaps just to those open, unanswered questions which were our own in the first place, but are returned to us, magnified, by the hospitable acoustic openness of the poem."
In Young’s work, the photographic negatives evoke ghosts and phantoms that conjure up the traces of the unconscious, the private and social repressed images. A spectral negative image, together with the act of listening, creates a double non-being: a hidden silence.
The sound and video installation Variations of 96 Chords in Space (feat. William Lane), 2023 (Hall 4), presents a color-sound-action scheme consisting of 96 colors. Each color is transformed into a chord. Software reassembles the recordings of these actions in endless combinations, largely systematic, partly arbitrary, according to the logic of analog and complementary colors. The scheme underlying the work is logical in method and transparent in mechanics. For the viewer, however, it may seem like a belief system implemented in a ritual.
"There is no meeting of minds at the half-way house of semantic-free data, no source code of perception for us to return to, only the impossible quest of approaching another’s Cartesian theater." – Samson Young
Both works are part of a long process. Already the recordings of the interactions were systematically and cartographically planned by Young. In our halls we show symphonies in space and time.
About Samson Young
Samson Young, born in Hong Kong in 1979, works multidisciplinary with sound, performance, video and installation. He studied music, philosophy and gender studies and received his Ph.D. in music composition from Princeton University, NJ in 2007. In 2017 he represented Hong Kong in the Hong Kong Pavilion of the 57th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia with the exhibition Songs for Disaster Relief. Young lives and works in Hong Kong.