Mountain Surrounded by Sea – sound and art installation by Crystal W.M. Chan and Benjamin K. Hodges

By Benjamin K. Hodges ,   Crystal Chan Wai Man

Event Date: 19th May — 6th June, 2020

Land and sea are locked in a perpetual battle. Again and again, waves try and fail to make it on land. Erosion takes some back to the sea, beating up rocks, shells and everything else caught up in it, with sand the first casualty of this ongoing war.

It is worn down, buried and slowly accumulates forming sandbars, islands and archipelagos. The slow friction of the daily grind wears things into smaller parts, smoother bits. Sand is also the stuff of memory and vacations, nostalgia and heat; it is the grit of friction, the trace that gets into sandals and gears. It is there in the desert island and in the hourglass. It is how we mark time; it is hourly and geological, and sometimes golden or black.

We know from both science and imagination that islands form by one of two processes. They either break away or raise up from beneath. And people insert themselves into them. They build walls and barriers between land and sea, moats that make castles into islands. How do we live on this shifting sand; is it wise to build on this battlefield?

To live on the island, is to sometimes forget the sands beneath and the sea that surrounds us. In Macao or Manhattan, the sea is always nearby but is often drowned out by the noise of the city. Shuttling across bridges and flying above, the sea passes in an instant. In these fleeting moments it’s all we can do to look out the window and nod to the sun, moon and neighboring towers that loom over it. They provide some signal of a possible future to come.

But we know Macao is not an island, it is an island attached, a presque-isle, an almost island. It is a place of escape, a place full of waiting and arrivals; but it is also not alone. It is locked into a process of expansion and retreat; through land reclamation projects old and new it reaches out to make land from the sea and readies itself for the arrival of waves big and small.

Mountain surrounded by Sea is a sound and art installation produced by Crystal W.M. Chan and Benjamin K. Hodges, two artists splitting their time between Macau and the U.S. This installation at Creative Macau is intended to provoke contemplation about the precarity between land and sea, invention and destruction.