Somerset House Studios

Ubi Sunt - a new audio commission by Flora Yin-Wong

11 Sep 2019

A new audio commission by Flora Yin-Wong, made in collaboration with visual artist Go Watanabe, examining the recall of memory in our technological age. Using hundreds of accumulated iPhone recordings, the artist forges new connections between fractured memories, alternate worlds and intangible spaces.

Ubi Sunt is a new audio work by Flora Yin-Wong, commissioned by Somerset House Studios, composed of a tetralogy of sound pieces that abruptly jump between, cut up and stitch over six years of recordings captured in known and unknown locations - unlabelled and often lost sources. The connection between memory, emotion, and recorded moments that have accumulated on an iPhone is something that everyone could have their own version of. Hundreds of these snippets represent connections between the recall of memories, alternate worlds and spaces intangible, yet can be connected to across physical spaces.

In collaboration with artist Go Watanabe, the series will be accompanied by artwork that adopts the underlying themes via the camera work of the film. The scene slowly moves horizontally from left to right, which reminds of the viewer the movement of playing cassette tapes, or driving a car through a road. Household objects are placed as if they are constructing a town. The objects were developed submerged in natural light from a window, but for this piece, the shade remains on the surfaces in a new space of absolute darkness. The remaining shadows are the metaphor of memories that carried from the past, said to emerge as ghosts.

Varying from the sound of deep crunching snow in a forest in Hokkaido, Turkish EDM on the car radio, the rush of a reservoir in rural Wales, Buddhist monks chanting in Hangzhou, K-Pop in a teen clothing store in Seoul, and old vocal recordings - fragments that shift from the highly personal, nostalgic, to the extremely banal, or contrived and obnoxious are momentarily placed together.



Terrene: 'of, or like earth', focuses on the physicality of land and air. 
Dungeness, UK: wind, gravel, Hokkaido, Japan: crows in the mountain, snow, Polyrrhenia ruins, Crete: aquaduct at night, Ubud, Bali: running stream, insects in rice paddy fields, Budapest, Hungary: tunnel, Chicago: subway, Unknown, Hong Kong: construction in distance, Belgium: car warehouse, Unknown: thunderstorm, snow. 



Fragments of memories, friends, voices.
Unknown - Berlin?; Unknown; Car radio - South London; club, Hong Kong; club, Greece; car radio, UK; Paris, France; car factory, Belgium; gallery, Paris, Sai Wan, Hong Kong; store, Seoul, South Korea; car journey, Hong Kong; London; Chicago; Tokyo supermarket, Japan; taxi, Hong Kong; traffic, Bali; Billie Piper, Unknown; escalators district, Hong Kong; tunnel, London; Camden gig; gallery, Paris; Soundcheck - unknown; Turkish wedding, London.



Language, the way mankind communicates through voice and mainstream culture.
Early south-east Asian music; kecak performance at sunset, Uluwatu, Indonesia; record played in Hong Kong; car radio, UK; man in the street with a boombox, London; Mark Leckey interview; extreme spin class, London; Harrods video; wedding; club, unknown; family in Hong Kong; TV channel, hotel in New York; Unknown; Gig, unknown; car radio, Mariah Carey; gym class; bar, Mayfair; HXE in club; something outside the window; radio in Indonesian taxi; restaurant, China; store, Hong Kong; Unknown; gallery, last London; girl in car at 6am in Vienna on the way back to the venue (sorry).



Kecak performance, Indonesia; instrument recordings; gamelan from a banjar in the street, Bali; monks in Cantonese, Po Lin monastery; Chinese temple, unknown; Unknown - Tokyo; chants, Sha Tin; prayer, unknown; yangqin recordings; gong recording, Tirta Empul water temple ceremony; unknown; Bali airport; train journey - unknown; monk on car radio, Martyrria, Crete; gong recordings.



Equipment, methods, original recordings since used in tracks.
Ceremony at temple starting, Ubud; machine? - unknown; instrument recording in Rotterdam; playing the organ; yangqin recording; unknown machine, Arctic; Unknown; Unknown; playing the piano, London; Greek wedding, Thessaloniki; crickets at night, Canada; running water, unknown; organ; fire safety training; unknown; kemence recording; vocal recording - unknown; exhibition; violin sampling; radio set in a gallery; gallery, Tokyo; violin recorded at home, wind chimes on a mountain on Teshima Island.


Flora Yin-Wong is a London-born, Chinese-Malaysian artist working with field recordings, dissonance, and influences from contemporary club culture.

Ubi Sunt features as part of Bonds at Gallery 31, Somerset House Studios’ new permanent exhibition space, alongside Laura Grace Ford, Anna Mikkola, Imran Perretta, Hannah Perry, and Nick Ryan, until 05 Jan 2020.

Ubi Sunt