Prof. Benjamin K. Hodges exhibited a work of sound and installation art in collaboration with Macao and New York based artist Crystal W. M. Chan. The exhibition, “Mountain Surrounded by Sea” was installed at Creative Macau in the Macao Cultural Centre from May 19th through June 6th, 2020. The artists’ drew inspiration from the new islands being built in Macao and the environmental and emotional effects of this land reclamation.

The exhibition consisted of two main spaces: one a recreation of a model home, as if an apartment for sale on the future reclaimed islands and the other a reconstruction of the kind of fresh seafood displays common in front of traditional seafood restaurants. These spaces represent two different poles of Macao’s development, both its endangered fishing traditions and its current and future pressure to house a growing population. Throughout the space a surround sound piece plays that juxtaposes sounds of nature and the built environment with sounds of the shoreline, birds and water intermingling with the sounds of the city, neighborhood restaurants and the street. The haunting almost submerged quality of the sound is further intensified by a surround sound system which uses pink construction insulation foam together with transducers to make a uniquely immersive soundscape.

The combined effect of the installation is meant to evoke the idea of a mirage or distant future that is visible but not quite clear. In the model home space this is evoked through a picture window that recalls the tradition of dioramas and museum displays. Matte painting and a foreground of sand create a feeling of depth and distance that mirrors the kind of sea view many hope for in their ideal apartment. In the other space, the seafood itself is constructed using 3d animation and video projection. This creates a ghostly image in the typical Styrofoam containers. These images are like mirages seen at sea by sailors and fishermen on the distant horizon, a natural world seen and desired but not fully tamed or understood.