Nguyễn + Transitory is composed of Nguyễn Baly and Tara Transitory. Their work crosses disciplines of sound, performance, and installation. Together, the two attempt to approach sound, synthesis, noise, rhythm, and performance from a less colonial lens. Currently, they are in the process of presenting the immersive site-specific installation sound performance ‘Bird Bird, Touch Touch, Sing Sing’, which has been presented in its work-in-progress state at CTM Festival 2019 (Berlin), WORM (Rotterdam), Submerge Digital Arts Festival 2019 (Bristol), PACT Zollverein (Essen), Serralves Museum (Porto) to date and will be presented at Ultima Festival 2019 (Oslo), STUK Start (Lueven) and HeK (Basel) in the fall of 2019. Katharina Hauke is a Berlin-based audio and visual artist. She has worked as a cinematographer for artistic, narrative and documentary films and both as a visual and a sound artist in installation, theatre and opera. Katharina Hauke studied philosophy, design and media arts. The three give us their answers to our 11+3 interview:
1: Katharina: Not sure if there are any.
2: Baly: Where there is no empathy, there is no solidarity.
3: Tara: Colonialism is alive and well.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Tara: Difficult question! There have been plenty over the years, musical influences such as traditional music from various parts of Asia to Western avant-garde movements such as fluxus, but more than anything – daily life.
Baly: What influences me the most are probably my own feelings and memories that I try to translate into sounds.
Katharina: Since I work on the visual part of this project I will answer this and the following questions regarding video. What I see around, in everyday life. Movements are very impressive for me, and postures or when they coincide like in plants.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
Tara: When I was 15, I started playing the guitar and soon found myself playing in punk bands in Singapore. Around 2004, the process somehow lead to trying out synthesizers and learning to use the computer as an instrument.
Baly: During my studies I was very curious about how to use a computer as an instrument, so I bought my first music production software back then. After making music primarily with the computer
for a while, I felt the need to work more with instruments beyond the surface of the computer which lead me to explore working with modular synthesizers.
Katharina: I started with photos which I still take, then did some video works, first during studies of design where I did experimental stuff with phone cameras and also analogue animation. I worked a lot in TV and small films as cable puller, props person, then continuity, camera assistant… then during my second studies (arts) I started
doing camera work in narrative and documentary film which is still my main field of work. Next to sound by the way.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Tara: Don’t know, too hard to shrink an ocean into a puddle!
Baly: Puh, there are quite a lot, just to mention some:
Audrey Chen’s – Runt Vigor
Winston Tong – Stranger
Jlin – Dark Energy
Austra – Olympia
Tuxedomoon – Pink Narcissus
Katharina: I’ll answer films (list changes often):
Chantal Akerman – Les rendezvous d’Anna
Ivan Marković – Centar
Michelangelo Frammartino – Le Quattro Volte
Tsai Ming Liang – He liu
Gilles Deroo/Marianne Pistone – Mouton
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Tara: Nguyễn + Transitory’s studio, visiting Baly’s family in Marzahn and seeing friends occasionally.
Baly: Playing pool with strangers, my family and working in our studio.
Katharina: The people I met and re-met here, work or hang out with. Walking for hours. The feeling of freedom that comes with a bike. My neighborhood but also Kottbusser Damm. Kleinanzeigen.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
Tara: Nguyễn + Transitory’s studio! Where else!
Baly: Our kitchen. lol
Katharina: The backyard of the house I live in, there’s a tree that is taller than the six storey building and who knows, maybe older. When there is wind, the tree top gets caught and it swirls around within the walls that it can touch with its branches. In autumn it rains leaves for more than a week, constantly.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Tara: Music will always exist in all the worlds I can imagine, even
if it is unintentional or undefined.
Baly: I would probably repair electronics.
Katharina: Listen to and record all of the other noises around. Oh
and camera work.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Tara: Audrey Chen’s ‘Runt Vigor’.
Baly: Angkanang Kunchai’s ‘Isan Lam Plearn’.
Katharina: Film I saw: Edward Yang’s ‘Yi Yi’ (definitely on my extended favorites list)
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Tara: Does Nguyễn Baly count?
Baly: Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.
Katharina: PJ Harvey
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Tara: Wouldn’t say any were the best per se. But if one special experience comes to mind, it is the night I was lucky enough to perform with Jenny Quỳnh Phương and Nguyễn Thiện Phúc. These two lovelies work doing very risky performances with fire in the middle of the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. They drive on their motorbikes loaded with a large sound system on the back, through the city looking for spots to stop and perform, after each performance they will go through the crowds of spectators to sell homemade peanut candy, this was their job and I was basically just following them around to provide music for their performances that night hence being both performer and spectator!
Baly: I think our best performance was recently at Serralves in Porto. We were presenting our work ‘Bird Bird, Touch Touch, Sing Sing’ there. After developing this work for over a year, I felt that with every presentation, it feels somewhat more and more closer to the impossibility of completion. Specific to this performance, I definitely felt Tara and me were more synchronized than before and also in tune with the public.
Katharina: With my electronic duo plümmo at Golden Pudel Club Hamburg, not too many people but really smooth set and Nikae and Ratkat did a DJ set afterwards which was the best dancing in a long time.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Tara: Hmmmmm, depends how we define technology? I would say it is an element of consideration but isn’t paramount if we define technology as something that is new, latest, bleeding edge.
Baly: Since we’re working with modular synthesizers, technology somehow plays a role in our creative process but I’m not sure if I would say that technology would be important for us.
Katharina: I work with computers a lot and am not too happy about it, but it’s all very useful of course, also video and audio recording devices, microphones etc. What we produce, also in art, depends on which tools or technology we use to work on it, it influences the product but also how we think about or approach things.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
Tara: Yes I have a sister who works as a nurse. I guess she’s ambivalent about my art/career.
Baly: I have two sisters and a brother and all of them are happy for me that I can do what I want, I guess.
Katharina: I have two sisters and a brother who each work and study different things, we are in a way much alike, also each one creative in their field. How they feel about it not sure but I assume they’re fine with it.
Nguyễn + Transitory and Katharina Hauke will be presenting ‘Hi Hi Future, Bye Bye (Attempts at Unbecoming in a Post-Futurist Landscape)’, a site-specific audio-visual work inspired by the poem ‘My mother was my first country, the first place I ever lived’ by Nayyirah Waheed at the Future Soundscapes festival at silent green Betonhalle + Kuppelhalle on Sunday, 13th October.
Photo © Nguyễn + Transitory