Sound Art
Yadong Zhang
Industrial Relics

751 D·PARK Sound Installations

In 2020, PILLS Studio was commissioned by Beijing 751 Park to collaborate with producer Yadong Zhang to create a set of sound art installations for the park. 751 Factory was one of Beijing's most important energy supply sites in the last century. With the development of technology and upgrading of production capacity, the history of coal production at the site has become the past. We implant new-era speakers in industrial heritage landscapes to bring low-cost, sustainable development to the site. At the same time, we aim to bridge the connection between space and sound through design so that industrial structural spaces can release rich sound fields and create unique scenes and experiences that integrate into the present. We have retraced the history of acoustics and space and organized four sound principles closely related to their development and application - transmission, echo, visualization, and environmental sound. Based on these four characteristics, we have created four soundscape devices - “dragonfly,” “fox,” “rabbit,” and “hedgehog” - by combining the structures hidden in the corners of public spaces such as the 751 Power Square cracking furnace, pipelines, and gas storage tanks. The overall plan fully utilizes the existing aerial corridors in the park, forming a visual and spatial connection to guide people to re-understand these industrial heritage sites that have been stripped of their functional cores. Through these sound devices, the audience can deeply participate in and perceive the historical space in the urban renewal process and gain new understanding and significance. Dragonfly “Dragonfly” is located on the observation platform of the cracking furnace at 751 Power Square. The floating airbag forms a cloud wrapped in fine threads. In the seemingly haphazardly hanging string clusters, some serve as structures to support and fix, while others utilize the microphone principle to transmit sound by connecting the “microphone” and “earpiece.” The private one-on-one sound transmission method of tin can telephones has been moved to open public platforms, and the corresponding relationship between microphones and earphones is disrupted through chaotic tangles of wires, making it difficult for people to easily distinguish the source and destination of sound in a field of intertwined sound. Random interactions and unexpected encounters occur among visitors. The platform of the cracking furnace is no longer just a vantage point for observation but an experimental field for re-perception and experience of the surrounding environment. Fox The fox disguises itself as a part of the cracking furnace pipeline, borrowing the close connection between echo and geometry to present a meditation space cut from a cylinder, allowing people to enter and listen to echoes. Similar to cymbals, gongs, wooden fish, singing bowls, etc., the poetic meaning of echoes often originates from a pure sound frequency, which can form a sound field with more spatial characteristics than melody. The device is also a vast musical instrument, with the top rotating every 12 hours as it opens up to the sky, introducing light and shadow and driving sound production. On this basis, visitors are also concertos; tapping on the pipe wall and stepping inside the device will release new sounds. As time passes, the audio inside the device echoes, and the light and shadow rotate, allowing people to play, listen, or meditate here. Industrial heritage is no longer just an observed material scene but also an active and participatory story scene that resonates with the audience's inner world and is an interactive flow between industrial history and individual sensibility. Rabbit The outer surface of the rabbit's shuttle is similar to the rusty industrial pipeline material, and in appearance, it comes from the same era. However, the inner surface presents a three-dimensional sound image: an irregular kaleidoscope composed of grid-shaped mirrored edges that reflect the surrounding landscape into countless fragments. Each edge block has an independent rotation axis and is equipped with a corresponding metal tapping plate at the bottom. Consistent with the sound principle of cymbals, when the audience touches or presses the inner wall of the device, the edges lose balance and stability, rotate along their respective diagonals, and collide with the metal plate at the bottom to make a sound. The mesh surface was disrupted with the sound of tapping, and the mirror image inside the kaleidoscope twisted and deformed accordingly. The fragmented image translated the rhythm created by the visitors. The device occupies the northeast corner of the 751 Power Square lawn, creating a visual focus for the open space. The three shuttle bodies that make up the device form a 60-degree spiral upward and tightly interlocked while gazing at the sky, cracking furnace, and locomotive square, connecting the other three works of the sound series in the line of sight. Hedgehog Inspired by environmental sound and smoke simulation, Hedgehog envisioned the gas storage tank on the north side of 751 Park as a large-scale industrial sound device. The device utilizes the existing structure of 7000 tanks, enclosing an openable enclosed space at the bottom with a mechanical dome and installing a wind-driven sound rod at the top. When the mechanical dome is opened, the internal gas is under pressure, and the indoor air generates a rotating airflow that ejects outward, forming a smoke ring. When the smoke ring flies out, it vibrates the air and triggers the sound rod suspended on the structural grid. This scene is both a contemporary art performance and a landmark urban landscape. The space under the dome is an anechoic chamber, surrounded by sound-absorbing materials to create a unique and introverted acoustic environment, making the on-site sound the focus. The space can accommodate various activities such as exhibitions, presentations, openings, speeches, sound experiments, and performances. A series of sound devices activate industrial space into a dynamic and interactive sound field, creating a comprehensive experience of auditory, visual, and tactile senses for people, representing the evolution of production tools into media. The industrial park has transformed from producing goods to a place that generates stories and carries meaning, serving as a unique spatial form and a living fossil of collective memory in the city while also being endowed with new public functions. As different trends continue to flow in and gradually fade away, the weathered appearance of these metal structures still echoes in the wind. Project Information Project Type: Conceptual Design of Buildings and Installations Project Location: 751D · Park, Chaoyang District, Beijing Client: 751D · Park, Chaoyang District, Beijing Project Consultant: Yadong Zhang Host Architect: Zigeng Wang Design Team: Manying Wang, Yingxiao Chen, Canqi Mu, Shen Li, Xinyi Xie, Yao Lin, Mingyuan Huang, Yaowen Zhang, Shaomin Zhang, Bingjie Niu, Zhenghua Liu, Kang Wang, Ziyue Su, Lei Song, Lin Lin, Jingxian Pan Research Guidance: Jia Weng Research Team: Yingxiao Chen, Canqi Mu, Yiran Zhao, Zhongjing Zhang

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