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May 23 2019

Samson Young Wins 2019 Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction

by Xuan Wei Yap
SAMSON YOUNG has won a Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction for his work Muted Situation #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th (2018). Photo by Fritz Beck. Courtesy the artist.
SAMSON YOUNG has won a Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction for his work Muted Situation #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th (2018). Photo by Fritz Beck. Courtesy the artist.
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On May 22, Hong Kong multidisciplinary artist Samson Young was named winner of a Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction, under the digital musics and sound art category. He will be honoured along with the other 2019 Prix Ars Electronica recipients at a gala during the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz this September. 

Young’s winning work, Muted Situation #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th (2018), is a video and 12-channel sound installation, and the latest piece from Young’s series “Muted Situations” (2014– ). The project proposes that muting “involves the conscious suppression of dominant voices, as a way to uncover the unheard and the marginalised, or to make apparent certain assumptions about hearing and sounding,” in the words of the artist. Muted Situation #22 features Cologne’s Flora Sinfonie Orchestra, who were directed to perform a piece by a European male composer—in this case, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphony—without projecting the musical notes. The subjects of the work are thus the sounds that were produced by the musicians’ physical actions—audiences hear their focused breaths, the contact between their bodies and their instruments, and the turning of pages. 

The jury for the category stated about Young’s entry: “Young does not send a message but raises questions on which we start to reflect while listening to this unusual, beautiful performance of classical music.” The panel comprised sound artist Christina Kubisch; scientist and composer François Pachet; artist Soichiro Mihara; Rikke Frisk, founder and co-director of Copenhagen-based production company Indgreb; and journalist and music curator Shilla Strelka. 

The other Award of Distinction for digital musics and sound art was given to Tomomi Adachi, Andreas Dzialocha and Marcello Lussana for their project, Voices from AI in Experimental Improvisation (2018), while the top prize, known as the Golden Nica, was bestowed on composer and sound artist Peter Kutin for his kinetic sound sculpture TORSO#1 (2018). The 2019 Prix Ars Electronica also includes categories for computer animation, and artificial intelligence and life art. There was a total of 3256 submissions from 82 countries for this year’s competition. 

Xuan Wei Yap is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

To read more of ArtAsiaPacific’s articles, visit our Digital Library.

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