gCON 2019

Susan Shih Chang

Susan Shih Chang is a Candidate with the Cultural Studies in Asia Program, National University of Singapore. Her areas of expertise include: museum studies with a focus on culture policy, migration, national identity formation in modern Singapore and Taiwan. She is also currently working on theories of embodiment in museum spheres.

Her recent two publications are: Local Museums and the Formation of National Identity: A Case Study on the Chinatown Heritage Centre, Singapore (2017) and Representing Migrant Labourers in the National Museum of Singapore (2016).


Pasibutbut: Liminality of Embodiment through 3D Soundscape Technology

This paper examines the use of 3D soundscape technology in the exhibition “Singing with Ancestors: Pasibutbut of the Bunun” at the National Museum of Prehistory, Taiwan. Pasibutbut is not only an eight-part polyphony sung as a prayer for rewarding harvest by the Bunun people, but also an important world heritage of traditional music as it consists of semi tones and notes that overturned a prevailing music theory that chords are composed of monophony and polyphony elements. The museum created an installation “Consonance” that consists of sixteen loudspeakers, presenting the array of sound resonance of the Pasibutbut performance. The visitor is invited to interact by singing along and thus “part-taking” in the harvest festival ritual. Through this participation, the visitors go through what Turner (1987) calls “liminality”, in which participants are at the threshold between their previous identity and the status they will hold when the rite of passage (in this case, the harvest ritual) is complete. Participants not only experience the cultural heritage through participation, but also extends its meaning through self-active body movement. In this case, the body of each participants becomes the carrier of memory, which liven and preserves culture through acting, but also extends collective memory. This research argues that liminality is achieved though museum visitors’ participation in the performance (singing along). In addition, embodiment is done through the use of modern technology and the preservation of sound/moving heritage and traditional indigenous culture is done through this embodiment process.