Family Association

May 27 – June 3, 2022
6 – 7PM

Building on my recent project (T*he Emigrants*) with oral history and musical placemaking, Family Association is a new site-specific, geolocation-enabled piece that uses collected oral history recordings from five members of the Chinese-American community as part of an interactive soundwalk in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Listeners will hear interviewees’ memories of their extended families, how their families emigrated to the United States, and whom they imagine their ancestors to be — including those who left their homeland to seek a new future in the U.S. decades (and perhaps centuries) ago. Using GPS technology, Family Association embeds the audio within sites of various “family associations” in Chinatown; such associations have created tight-knit, supportive, social, and imagined communities based on a common family name. These associations in the neighborhood serve as a way for the listener to interact with the stories that they hear.

In Family Association, the listener will use a GPS-enabled smartphone app as they freely explore Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood. As the work begins, the speech is more fragmented, interspersed with musical gestures inspired by the rhythms and melodic contours of the recorded speech. When the listener approaches the site of a family association, the speech becomes more whole, recalling the way in which these micro-communities have helped generations of Chinese-Americans to both reconstruct and reconnect with their past. Over the course of the 15-minute experience, the recorded testimony gradually focuses on the interviewees’ vision of their legacy for the next generation.

Family Association is co-presented by The Performance Project at University Settlement and MATA Presents, and is made possible with support from Music At The Anthology, Inc. (MATA), and from a Faculty Impact Fund grant from the Faculty of Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University. Family Association’s app is developed with the open-source Roundware framework.

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