2rd June 2021, London, UK – Sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan, organised by the Taiwan Design Research Institute (TDRI) and curated by Bito, the Taiwan Pavilion presents its Swingphony exhibition at this year’s London Design Biennale.
The Taiwan Pavilion team uses Swingphony as the main concept behind its interpretation of the London Design Biennale’s theme – Resonance. The inspiration comes from the diversity of religions in Taiwan, combined with physics – The Schumann Resonances.
In terms of religion, Taiwan is one of the most diverse countries in the world, embracing various religious culture. However, no matter what the religion, praying, chanting and meditation are significant in all of them.
The Schumann Resonances are a global electromagnetic resonance phenomenon named after physicist Winfried Otto Schumann, who predicted it mathematically in 1952. It is calculated on a series of global electromagnetic resonances, generated and excited by lightning discharges in the cavity formed by the Earth’s surface and the ionosphere, and is widely used in predicting lightning, earthquakes and most recently, climate change. Often referred to as “the heartbeat of the Earth” the frequency of the Schumann Resonances is 7.83Hz.
Communal chanting, praying and meditation are proven to increase Alpha Waves – the brain waves most commonly associated with reducing stress, The Alpha Wave’s frequency is between 8 and 12 Hz, almost the same as The Schumann Resonances. The aim of Swingphony is to enable visitors to understand the Alpha Wave, harness natural electromagnetic resonances and experience communal sound rhythms, to highlight the power of unity in a fragmented world.
At the exhibition stand, groups of seven people at a time enter the Taiwan Pavilion into a dark room, with only a lit-up table in the middle. They are given one metronome each and invited to set it to any speed, which means the metronomes will start to swing at various different speeds. They then gradually begin to swing at the same speed – a phenomenon which only occurs with an odd number of metronomes. When this happens after around 15 seconds, the room will be lit by lanterns hanging on the wall, which are activated by the synchronised frequency. The lanterns symbolise Taiwanese temples. A short video starts at the same time, creating an immersive experience for the audience.
The message of Swingphony is that no matter what differences there are between individuals, we can each connect with others and develop a balanced relationship with society and beyond that, the entire world.
Swingphony is expected to generate discussions not only between those from the design and art industries, but also among the general public in the UK. Taiwan’s Representative to the UK, Kelly W. Hsieh, noted that the Taiwan Pavilion illustrates how each of us can be socially impactful, and how a synchronised rhythm inspires belief in a more harmonious world.