Very Tall Very Bright reflects on and refracts personal memories—of a person, the time of a person, and the sounds around that person.
My grandfather's name was 高光—just two characters, meaning "tall" and "bright". Although he did not quite resemble his name in appearance, he held a grand, epic presence and lived a colorful life. His tiny bedside radio constantly blasted Cantonese opera, with the already-piercing timbres of the genre further augmented by compression and inadequate speakers. The apartment where he lived for many decades, thirty-one floors off the streets of Kwun Tong, was lit with the bright grey of a tropical, yet cloudy sky. Thus, those two simple characters would end up encapsulating my memory of him.
The notions of tallness and brightness permeate this work in myriad ways. First is the technical: generally high pitch range, bright tone colors, a syntax bearing a faint aura of Cantonese opera. Here, the sound world is full of the glitches of old audio machines such as the radio, of course, but also rewinding cassette tapes, and scratched vinyl discs. The atmosphere oscillates between one that is fluttering, almost festive, and another that is sunken in the depths of memory. Bubble wrap sounds of squeaking, popping, and rustling were selected for their precise ability to imitate different aspects of static, as a result of my extensive experience with the material. However, the use of bubble wrap is also significant for injecting the performance with a theatrical character that is bizarre and joyful at the same time.