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Mobile Phone Orchestra

Mobile Phone Orchestra is an interactive performance created in 2011; as its name suggests, this piece features mobile phones and music. First performed at a festival, the audience of this piece, which amounted to four hundred people, became active participants: they were orchestra members. An exciting way of approaching performing arts, Mobile Phone Orchestra uses music tracks and lights to create different work each time it is staged. The tracks, recordings of sounds collected from various sites around the world, are paired with corresponding lights of different colours. These lights, usually stage lights, then become more than ambience-setting tools: they now function as signs, symbols for the ‘orchestra members’ to follow and play along; their ‘music score’, if you will.

The music tracks are disseminated right before the performance begins; members of the audience are encouraged to share the tracks amongst themselves to speed up the preparation process. Ng sees this as integral to this piece; he considers the act of sharing these tracks openings amongst members of the audience: these tracks function not only as music, but also conversation starters. He wishes to ease the audience into the performance: to move them, literally, from the position of spectator to that of participant. Significantly low-technology, this piece relies on the built-in music player available on most phones; the file-sharing, too, can be achieved sans internet connection.

In 2011, Ng Chor Guan decided to begin commuting via the bicycle; this vehicle, commonly considered unsafe and inefficient, has brought Ng closer to the world in which he lives. The sounds, sights and smells to which he is exposed on the bicycle, as opposed to that in an automobile, offers much inspiration and motivation towards the creation of new works. He realizes that by locking oneself in a car, one is isolated from the world, the earth on which we trod. This isolation, he believes, creates misunderstanding and miscommunication; cycling opened him up to a world many left behind for comfort. With Mobile Phone Orchestra, he wishes to share with his audience sounds and music he has seen on his numerous cycling trips; he wishes to inspire conversations and trigger imaginations. The tracks of Mobile Phone Orchestra are also an artist’s conservation attempt: they are recordings of a rapidly changing world whose sounds are fleeting and transient. These recordings, transcending time via art, is Ng’s way of making sense of the world around him.