Humming Project (2009 - Present)
“Do you have a song that reminds you of your childhood?”
“Could you hum it for me?”
Humming Project is an interdisciplinary research project that combines practice-based, artistic research methods, which include electroacoustic compositions, sound installation and public-engaged performance arts, and more traditional research methods through writing. To examine the significance of humming in shaping private and intimate spaces and sharing individual memories with people that are close to themselves and also to their community and to explore ways in which humming can bring about the sense of place and of community, I am conducting a series of ongoing public sound installations that collect people’s hums (of songs and tunes that would remind them of their childhood) and play them back to the community in a place that may be either historically or socially significant to them.
Humming Project initially started in 2009 with In Tune, Out of Tune (Berlin Humming) for which I collected hums from some 50 people in Berlin. This led me to conduct two more similar, albeit more expanded, humming projects (in Silver City, New Mexico, and Aberdeen, Scotland).
Now Humming Project has been turned into a more interdisciplinary one. Over the years of collecting and playing back the hums that I have collected, I have come to realise that humming is an interesting vocalic act that has not been thoroughly researched, particularly, its performative, socioacoustic, and ecological impact on individuals and community. Furthermore, as a sonic concept that could be explored in sound studies, humming does exhibit two contrasting (polarising) categories: one that is familiar to us, that we both perform and listen, that is intimately connected to our body, our psyche, our community, our private and collective memory, and the other that poses itself completely at odds with our humming, such as electrical hums, hums of machines, man-made or natural hums that invade our sonic and psychological landscape, hums that keep resounding regardless of our listening.
Humming Project is now taking a turn to more diverse artistic and research undertakings. Collecting hums and presenting them back to the community through sound installations will continue, but in tandem with these, I am now focusing on the various configurations of the antithesis between two categories of humming through composition, performance, and writing.