I have started making “soundscapes” to accompany blog posts that I write about historical events or phenomena in Southeast Asian history. I am not sure why I started to do this, and I’m still not sure what exactly it is that I am doing, but the more I think about it, the more it seems to make some kind of sense.

napalm image

The above picture is an iconic image from the Vietnam war of children running from a village that had been napalmed.

The image below is a “reframing” of the same image by Polish artist, Zbigniew Libera.

Zbigniew

Which image is more disturbing? Why? What is the point of the second image?

Clearly, this “reframing” of this iconic photograph can lead people to think about various things: the past, suffering, affluence, the present, etc.

So I think I’m trying to find a way to do this with sound. This is more difficult as there are not many “iconic sounds” from the past. That is therefore somewhat of a limitation, but it can also leave more room to be creative.

In “remixing the past” in the previous post, I was attempting to represent in sound the lack of interest on the part of the Marine Court at Singapore that some of the survivors of the Angola wreck had resorted to cannibalism. By placing sounds of murder and cannibalism alongside a smooth trance groove, my idea was to create a sense of complacency in the face of horror.

While that remix is not as artistic as Zbigniew Libera’s reframed photograph, perhaps the idea is more or less the same?

Medusa

I also find it interesting that less than a century earlier before the survivors of the Angola wreck engaged in cannibalism, the survivors of the wreck of a ship called the Medusa had also engaged in cannibalism.

This act was captured in a painting that now resides in the Louvre. That painting caused a scandal/sensation when it was created, in part because people were appalled at the time to learn of what the surviving sailors had done.

So why was the Marine Court at Singapore unfazed about what the survivors of the Angola wreck did? And why are we so unfazed by so much today?

Perhaps reframing and remixing the past is a way that we can think about these things.