Jane V Hsu Says “”Platypus,” They Said”

Posted in Arario New York by arariogallery on July 20, 2010

Platypus? Similar to Duras’ “”Destroy,” She Said”, Jane Hsu’s collaboration with the contemporary music ensemble, The Meanwhile, conveys electrifying and mesmerizing emotion through visual and sound effects. It was a visual experience enhanced by the sounds resonating from the bassoon and electric instruments of The Meanwhile.


  • Your current piece in Arario, “People Were Made to Disappear”, was inspired by personal events; how did “”Platypus,” They Said” transpire?

[JVH] As PWMTD was inspired by real events with my dog sitter’s ability to turn my dogs into devils:, Platypus came from the odd instrumentation of “The Meanwhile.”  I thought the strange combination of electronic instruments, the rarely seen improvised bassoon, and cooper pots reminded me of the platypus, a patchwork creature, that emits a kind of electricity, similar to an eel.

  • I read a summary of Duras’ book, “Destroy, She Said”, and wondered if the use of music and images replaces the intense cadence of words/language.

[JVH] A direct relation would be the end of the video, where a black screen speaks to the viewer about the platypus.  At the performance, the words could not be heard, so I added the subtitles in place.

  • Do you feel that the music enhances the emotion conveyed by your video? Is it your intention that your audience feel a certain way?

[JVH] What I enjoy about working with “The Meanwhile” is that they improvise all of their pieces.  As the audience and space changes, the music for the video will adapt to various environments.

  • Is it the responsibility of the viewer to make sense of what’s happening within the video, and the music inspires a stronger sense of emotional response?

[JVH] Once the music fills up the environment and the projected video lights up floor, the viewer should become part of the experience.

  • When did you begin collaborating with The Meanwhile? Was it a meeting by chance, or did you both inspire one another?

[JVH] I started making my own music for videos (people were made to disappear), then I moved to making silent videos, then giving them to composers and musicians to play with.   My own background in music helps me edit sequences for sound, even if there is no sound for the piece.  Once I saw how musicians reacted to my visual images, I decided to have them improvise with the videos to a live audience

  • Do you think the relation between your video and The Meanwhile’s music is a conversation, a reaction, or an interweaving art piece (all of the above?)

[JVH] I believe that video and music should be an ongoing dialogue.  The more I work with musicians, the more integrated and dependent the video becomes on their other medium.  I wish to create a separate, unique medium out of the collaboration between video and sound.


This performance reaches an audience on different levels; conversation between the musicians and the videowork of Jane Hsu, an experience for the participating audience, and a unique medium formed from the combination of video and instrument. As Jane has stated, the musicians’ performance with a live audience and in different environments creates a unique experience for everyone every time. It’s great to witness an artist experimenting their own art and expanding their own experience by working with other artists of different mediums. As the platypus emits electrical signals, so does this artist with her visuals and electric sounds.



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