Silent Music Plane 1967

LIFE magazine cover (2 June 1967), 1967 five-cent Hong Kong coins, sound recordings Long Life Chairman Mao (Central Ensemble of Songs and Dances, 1966) and Yesterday (The Beatles, 1965), variable-speed motor, media player, earphones, electronic controller, tripod, dimensions variable, 2016


In May 1967, a year after the nationwide Cultural Revolution took place in China, large-scale anti-colonialist riots broke out in Hong Kong. Lots of Chinese propaganda slogans and music were broadcasted from the loudspeakers at the Bank of China Building in Central, Hong Kong. It was loud and heard everywhere in Central. Then the Hong Kong government installed 6 large military speakers on the roof of the nearby Government Information Services office building, playing loudly the jazz and western pop music including The Beatles to counteract the propaganda. In the “Hong Kong Under the Gun” issue (July 31, 1967) of Newsweek magazine, there is a line in its cover story, “Many of the rich and the middle class have had their airline tickets bought and paid for months, or even years.”

In this installation, a paper plane was made of the magazine cover of LIFE (June 2, 1967), which ran a story of the escape of famous Chinese musician Ma Sitson from China. It flies on strings at variable speeds synced with the tempo and level of two songs: Long Life Chairman Mao (1966), and Yesterday (1965). But the playback music is barely heard by the audience.

Silent Music Plane 1967 from Leung Chi Wo on Vimeo.