知道不知道 Do You Know or Not

Site-specific performance 2016-17


Version 1:

Interactive vocal performance, site-specific installation, audience participation

Performance and installation: Lemon Guo, Columbia Music Library, NY 2016

“Do You Know Or Not” is an interactive performance, based on investigation of the lineage of the eponymous popular Chinese folk song through its various versions in the last 60 years, each manifesting characteristics of a particular social, political, and cultural period. The work aims to recontexualize, reinterpret and reclaim the "progress" of folk music in China through an intimate and embodied performance.  "Min Zu Chang Fa"(民族唱法), the official Chinese folk/traditional singing style that I was trained in, is a wide-spread myth that contributes to the homogenization and disappearing of diverse folk sounds across China. 

In the Columbia music library, between stacks full of scores of Mozart and Haydn, I created a small window by removing books on both sides of the shelves. I translated three versions this tune, their background stories, and stills from the films they appeared in, and attached the documents on the bookshelf. The participants and I stood on opposite sides of the shelf. They could take a piece of paper of the version they want to hear off the shelf, hand it to me, and I would sing it to them in that style, usually in an intensely intimate one on one close interaction, filtered through my “Min Zu Chang Fa” trained body, framed by the bookshelf. An audio recording of me singing the song prior to discovering the historical background of this style could be heard on a headphone that was hung on the bookshelf. At the end of the installation, the participants were invited to sing a 1966 version of the song together, using my transcription on a staff paper.


Version 2:

Performance, transducers, movement, live processed voices

Hubei 120, Bi-City Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism\ Architecture, 2017

Lemon Guo is singing various versions of the Chinese folk song, "Do You Know Or Not".

Mengtai Zhang is echoing with field recordings and live processed voice through transducers on the maze structure.

'Do You Know or Not' appears as a metaphor and expression of Hubei (湖貝, an urban village in Shenzhen), but also emphasizes an essential problem: environment. The duo live performance utilizes the physical and acoustic structure of the labyrinth at the site, considering built environment and imaginary architectures as perceived in conjunction with sound, space, and the bodies, thus drawing attention to Hubei's unique geometric spatial structure, and the acoustics of the narrow alleys between the buildings. The rapid economic development of recent years has brought with it massive destruction of nature, such as sand storms, smog, water pollution, mudslide, and earthquakes. These problem, to a large extent, are caused by environmentally hazardous factors in the industrial production, and failed to raise enough awareness among the people to make a change. The erosion of nature has expanded into dimensions of civilization, culture, and history. The performance juxtaposes such "progress" embedded in the folk song and the modernization of Hubei.