Zai Tang

Sonorous Art & Design




Escape Velocity II

2018 | Underneath West Coast Highway, Singapore


Part of CAKE’s On the Rocks / Running With Strippers 2018, Escape Velocity II is an experiment in bringing the ethereal voices of the Singaporean wild to life through animation and sound visualisation. Featuring a composition of slowed down field recordings from Bukit Brown, Macritchie and the Rail Corridor, this synaesthetic installation is set within the belly of a concrete highway.The visual element of the piece originates from scans of my hand-drawn visual score from Escape Velocity I (2018), created in response to the sensuous qualities of creatures recorded in each locale. Building upon past audio-visual creations with artist and animator Simon Ball, our collaborative process is centred on experimentation between the senses; searching for ways to embody sonorous beings and the soundscapes in which they dwell through a visual choreography of animated forms, spaces and architectures. Situating itself in opposition to the momentum of modernity and anthropocentrism, Escape Velocity II is an experiential exploration of attunement to the other we call Nature; an attempt to bridge the gap between human and nonhuman worlds.

Event info: HERE


Escape Velocity I

2018 | MOCA Yinchuan, China



Escape Velocity I, the work realized for the Yinchuan Biennale comprising of a sound composition and a visual score, stems from the artist’s interest in interspecies communication as well as from his refusal of capitalist politics of speed. The field recordings were made between 2013 and 2016 in Singapore, at Bukit Brown Cemetery, MacRitchie Reservoir, and the Rail Corridor, three areas of thriving biodiversity under threat from the uncompromising needs of urban development.  Bird songs and wildlife calls have been manipulated and slowed down in order to prompt a form of reduced listening and render the animal utterances more easily intelligible to the human ear. The sound composition is recorded on a dubplate resting on a turntable to be played by the audience. With each play, the dubplate wears down, gradually degrading over the course of the exhibition.” (text: Anna Lovecchio, NTUCCA)

I’m very grateful to curator Marco Scotini who commissioned this work alongside MOCA Yinchuan and to NAC Singapore for supporting me, as well as NTUCCA where I was an artist-in-residence from April–Sept 2018.

Interview with Marco: HERE


Spectres & Spectres LIVE

2017 | 72-13 TheatreWorks, Singapore

Commissioned for SIFA’s The O.P.E.N 2017, Spectres is an artistic response to the notion of the Anthropocene. This new geological epoch is defined by humanity’s radical effect on the Earth’s equilibrium and the burgeoning number of species becoming extinct.

Evoking a dystopian future where the wildlife of this island has all but vanished, Spectres is an immersive environment haunted by the remnants of sounds that once inhabited Singapore. This work takes the form of an audio-visual installation derived from my archive of field recordings from local natural habitats. These deceased sonorities have been brought back to life and re-animated using digital imaging and sound visualisation techniques. However, the ethereal images and sounds that emerge from this process no longer resemble the creatures from which they originated. They have metamorphosed into a myriad of phantasmagoric forms and disfigured expressions, embodying a sonorous vision of a desolate horizon. In confronting the spectre of extinction, we are invited to reconnect with that which remains in the present and imagine alternative paths towards the future.

By day, Spectres is an audio-visual installation exploring the spectre of extinction. By night, it transforms into a performance space, Spectres LIVE, where local musicians respond to the thematic threads within the work through improvisational and experimental dialogues. I had the joy of collaborating with some of my favourite musicians from Singapore for this work; Cheryl Ong, Dennis Tan, Yuen Chee Wai, Fuzz Lee, Shark Fung, Wu Jun Han, Bani Haykal, Dharma & Natalie Alexandra. Massive shout out to you all!

Interview: HERE


Resident Frequencies: A Brief Aural History of National Gallery Singapore

2017 | National Gallery Singapore, Singapore

Resident Frequencies is an aural response to selected histories and architectural elements of the National Gallery Singapore. Consisting of eight compositions, the work takes the form of a cascading soundscape which leads visitors along a timeline illustrating how the site of the City Hall and former Supreme Court buildings has been transformed since the 14th century. The title of the work is a play on the term “resonant frequency”, which describes the frequency at which an object vibrates. Resident Frequencies seeks to evoke the memories that this site holds, setting their vibrations in motion once more. The use of the spaces in and around the Gallery is central to this work, and many of the compositions feature recordings made on-site.

It was truly a wonderful experience to work with the fantastic team at NGS! Looking forward to future collaborations.

More info: HERE


Respect & Exploit (Bukit Brown Cemetery I & II)

2013 | Saatchi Gallery, London


I exhibited one solo and one collaborative work (with Simon Ball) from my Bukit Brown Cemetery Series at STRATA Art Fair 2013. The exhibition titled Flux – City of Changewas curated by Joleen Loh & Griselda Bear and examined “Singapore’s urban and imagined landscape as well as its socio-cultural history, revealing notions of memory as they relate to place.” (Joleen Loh)
The works I created were made in response to the fate of Bukit Brown Cemetery. One of the largest Chinese graveyards outside China, Bukit Brown was home to 100,000 graves, including many of Singapore’s early pioneers. The 200-hectare woodland habit also assumed the role of sanctuary to a colourful array of wildlife, including a handful of vulnerable and endangered bird species. Yet despite its historical and ecological significance, part of Bukit Brown has made way for a 8-lane highway which began construction in late 2013. I utilised recordings from the cemetery (made in March–June of 2013) to develop these works, “…subjecting the material to conflicting acts of ‘respect’ and ‘exploitation’ as a way of engaging with the ethical issues surrounding the exhumations and displacement of wildlife”. (Joleen Loh)

More info: HERE


Theatre Street

2012 | Substation / Singapore Arts & Heritage District


This piece was composed for Drive; an exhibition on wheels that brought the audience on a journey through Singapore’s arts & heritage district. Curated by Kent Chan, 9 Artists were involved in the show, each creating a piece for different parts of the route through bustling cityscape. My composition took its inspiration from a particular street in China Town where Chinese Opera in Singapore originated from. Drive was running on 9-10th & 16-17th June 2012.

More Info: HERE


||| Movement

2011 | Stamford Green / National Museum of Singapore

This site‐specific installation was a collaboration between Tang Ling Nah, atelier | small and myself. The work explored the cycle of construction, deconstruction and renewal within the city and was comprised of three zones―remembering, contemplating and transforming―reminiscent of three movements in a single musical composition. Sound recordings from the urban environment are transformed and fused with architectural elements made from construction waste to create a distinct aural‐spatial experience. The work encouraged the public to slow down, stop and contemplate the perpetual cycle of urban transformation through the act of listening. It was 1 of 7 proposals to be chosen for Hub-to-Hub Singapore, 2011.

Project Documentation: HERE


Through the Mind’s Eye of a Needle

2011 | GAC Gallery, Singapore

In recent years, I’ve obsessively documented all my dreams upon waking – through writing, drawing and voice recording. Through the Mind’s Eye of a Needle is a search for an alternative method of exploring the meanings of my dream material, by translating these experiences into a sonorous form. This work was featured in a group show which I curated entitled Dream: Borderlands & Other Territories, at Goodman Art Centre Gallery, Singapore.

Project Documentation: HERE


Sacred Soundscapes

2010 | Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore

Sacred Soundscapes was an immersive audio-visual installation exploring the significance of sacred sounds in the context of Singapore’s contemporary soundscape. I imagined the space to be a sanctum for the unique and meaningful sounds of Singapore that often get drowned out or disappear within the homogeneous urban soundscape of a bustling global city. It was open at Esplanade Tunnel Link from 9th April to 2nd May 2010.

Project Documentation: HERE


Sonorous City

2009 | Camberwell College of Arts, London

Sonorous City was an immersive surround-sound installation exploring the relationship between the soundscape and our perception of the urban environment. A series of soundwalks stemming from the River Thames form the basis of the work, which reveals an experience of London lead by the ear. This project explored potential ways of establishing a stronger connection with our environment through listening.

Project Documentation: HERE


Window Music

2009 | Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore

The above piece, entitled Window Music (2009), was exhibited alongside Sonorous City, and also featured in Esplanade’s TimeZones exhibition. This work is a reinterpretation of a piece of music composed entirely from sounds recorded outside of a window in north London. It explores the cyclic nature of sound activity within the environment and the role the soundscape plays in our perception of urban space.

52nd Venice Biennale Documentation: Figments, Fictions & Fantasies

2007 | Singapore Pavilion, Venice

This work was a collaboration with  my father, Tang Da Wu, for 52nd Venice Biennale. The room created a situation for thoughtful interaction between people from different cultures, and provided an opportunity for them to reflect upon their relationship with the environments they inhabit.

The piece above, Venetian Dreams, featured alongside a digital animation of Tang Da Wu’s drawings and a 12 minute sound composition comprised of recordings made around Venice. These 3 works revolved around the notion of impermanence as a response to the incremental sinking of Venice.