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Listen to the Silkworms

Author: Liang Shaoji Translator: Lu Jiang 2010

I have experienced many sleepless nights over my 20-year silkworm bearing experiment. When establishing intimate relationship with the little creature, its flowing-brook-like sounds of eating mulberry leaves and of spinning out led me to somewhere distant - an empty, quiet and magnificent territory. I listened silently and attentively, feeling a sense of relief, as if I had realized the state of Chan Buddhism. That’s when the idea of “Listen to the Silkworms” came into being.

“Listen to the Silkworms” erases the differences between life, production and art. In fact, Chinese sericulture is a great form of performance art and biological art. Additionally, it cannot be simply explained through a few words such as “behavior” and “Chan”. It spawns new meanings as audience’s perspective changes. Owing to the location where the work displays and the fact that sericulture involves humanity and science (such as the biological clock), “Listen to the Silkworms” offers the weary city dwellers a sense of hope to return to nature for enlightenment and self-redemption.

The work is now exhibited in an empty and quiet room. Only when the audience wear the earphone can they hear the sound. Although the direct connection between vision and hearing has been cut off, it points out a path towards what is so-called “great form is beyond shape; great music has the faintest notes”.

Unlike Cage’s pausing piano that prompts the audience to contemplate, “Listen to the Silkworms” is a kind of “natural state”, lifelike, serene and sober, rather than creating a sense of abruptness by compulsion.

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