For this project I had many different ideas but finally decided upon one.
I want to create a site-specific audio-visual installation about 2014 Shanghai stampede. So the site or place in that project is Crowd.
On December 31, 2014, during New Year’s celebration on the Bund in Shanghai, a deadly stampede happened and at least 36 people died, and 47 were injured. I was not in Shanghai at that time but when I heard about what happened I was terrified and I still feel the same even after few yeas.
I think about it all the time when I stand in the big crowd in Shanghai and still cannot imagine how horrifying would it be to be a part of the stampede. But crowd can be sent to stampede really easily: “A peaceful crowd can quickly turn into a senseless panicked heaving mass in which rational behavior by any single individual becomes nearly impossible. What’s worse is that the stampede can be triggered while there is no actual danger. Under certain situations, a crowd that has grown to a big and tight enough size and density reaches a critical state at which the slightest twitch is sufficient to send it into a stampede”. I imagine that in this kind of circumstances it is hard to keep calm and behave rationally as panic arises not only inside you but outside all around. It’s impossible to imagine yourself in these conditions and predict own behavior, but i believe we should try to do that, because stampede is a big danger. In CNN article witnesses shares his opinion on the cause of this stampede: “He blamed what happened on overcrowding, people’s lack of awareness of how to protect themselves, and on heavy traffic that blocked ambulances from getting to the scene sooner”. People should know how to prepare themselves for this terrible situation and learn how to behave rationally. Panic often occurs to something unknown and as we practice fire drills in case of fire, we should practice feeling of crowd in case of stampede.
I’m still thinking how my installation will look like but for now I imagine it as a small booth in the size of photo booth, maybe a little bit bigger. I will put headphones in the middle of the booth. If I would be able to take pictures of the crowd, I will put these pictures on all the walls, even on the ceiling. Floor will be covered with many fake printed dollar bills laying around (“Xinhua cited one unidentified witness as saying that people started scrambling after coupons that looked like dollar bills were thrown from the third floor of a building. Pictures posted online showed the slips of paper were a similar size, shape and colour as US currency, but emblazoned with the logo of M18, a nightclub, and stamped ‘New Year 2015′”)
As for sound, I think I will use binocular mics to record the sounds of the crowd in shanghai. I will also record some voices that will be distinct in the “crowd” sound based on witnesses experiences that I found in the news. Many of these witnesses while talking about their experiences put huge emphasize on the sounds that were surrounding them:
“I was surrounded by the sounds of girls crying and shouting for help with their last strain of effort, and of people fighting and throwing curses at each other,” said Zuo, who works in the media sector.
“I also had someone grabbing my hair from the back, struggling and breathing heavily,” Zuo said. “A girl in front of me held me desperately and said, ‘Help me, help me, please. I can’t make it anymore.’ There was also a girl completely motionless underneath.”
I’m also thinking about using not self-recorded sounds, for example, sounds of actual stampede, Chinese new year celebrations, fireworks.
I will also research about the sounds that cause panic, and if I will find something relevant, I will incorporate them as well.