Seismic Science Shakes Down with Interdisciplinary Performance   中文

live music / installation / video projection / performing arts / earthquake engineering

Fallen City is an interdisciplinary project that fuses the arts and science to raise awareness of earthquake risks and to honour the lives lost to earthquakes around the world. Co-presented by Proliferasian, C- Works, and Sound of Dragon Society, Fallen City offers a unique interactive theatrical experience.

Fallen City is the brainchild of 3 siblings – Lan Tung (producer/musician/composer), Dr. Dorian Tung (researcher/earthquake engineer), and Li Tung (visual artist/performer). Born in Taiwan, a country of frequent earthquakes, they now live in Vancouver, where there is increasing concern of a major earthquake (Read more about earthquake risks in BC). They are joined by collaborators from diverse fields: media artist company Chimerik 似不像, led by Shang-Han Chien and Sammy Chien, another set of siblings from Taiwan; software designer Arne Eigenfeldt; and sound design artist Jeremy O’Neill. 

Fallen City brings innovative approaches and draws materials from scientific studies and personal stories. Seismographic illustrations are incorporated in the visuals and used as graphical music scores. Live video camera tracking technology is used to enhance the interaction across disciplines. A handcrafted large musical pendulum creates spectacular visual effects, simulating earthquake waves and interacting with live cutting edge music performed by Proliferasian. Collaborating with ShakeOutBC, Natural Resources Canada, and Northwest Seismic Consultants, Fallen City brings an educational exhibition in the theatre lobby to give insight on earthquake risk management.

Formed in 2012 and acclaimed for its cutting edge music rooted in Asian traditions and avant-garde jazz, Proliferasian’s cross-cultural instrumentation includes Lan Tung on erhu (Chinese violin) and voice; JP Carter on trumpet and electronics; Kevin Romain on drums; Colin Cowan on bass; and Dailin Hsieh on zheng (Chinese zither). These musicians explore the contrasting, complementary, and sometimes contradictory nature of multiple genres. The result is a new “musical species” that proliferates and transforms continuously. Proliferasian is named after a composition by the late Vancouver pianist/improviser Paul Plimley. Honouring the spirit of this legendary wizard, Proliferasian may take inspiration from Asian music, literature, landscapes, legends, or paintings, but its music will definitely break any preconceptions of Asian cultures.

Fallen City is presented in the following four sections, identified by Dr. Dorian Tung: Seismic Hazard, Early Warning, Earthquake Engineer, and Disaster Recovery. Since all three siblings are cat owners, Li Tung has created paintings of cat communities to symbolize these four sections.

Seismic Hazard

When cats find something they do not understand, they do some research – in their own way, of course. They see a plain triangle and gather around it. Curiosity drives them to study the unknown, very much like people.

Early Warning

When the earth trembles, cats know, at least before people do. Research shows that cats can sometimes pick up on the fast-travelling P-wave, which is the first indication that an earthquake is coming. Therefore, before a major earthquake, cats often exhibit unusual behaviour. Their alert ears indicate their sense of the coming danger.

Earthquake Engineer

Bastet is an Egyptian goddess in the shape of a cat. In ancient Egyptian mythology, Bastet is not only a protective goddess who could fend off evil threats, but also a goddess associated with music, dance, and pleasure. The pyramids are one of the strongest human-made structures in history, and they have survived many earthquakes.

Disaster Recovery

After any distress, people seek comfort, much like sleepy cats. The unorganized triangles in the “Early Warning” cat painting have now been restored to order, bringing calm and relaxation.