The National Anthem of AO-SSU-CH'UI-LEE-A - a Karaoke video.

A single HD Video. 2’ 28”.

This work is a karaoke video. Playing the tune of Australian National Anthem, the video displays the animated lyrics on the screen for the participants to follow. Instead of usual English lyrics of the song, they are written in Wade-Giles phonetic symbols. Wade-Giles system is a Romanization system for Mandarin Chinese and widely used by English speakers to pronounce Chinese words. By seeing the lyrics, participants of this Karaoke video are suggested that they were pronouncing/singing in Chinese. As the indicated Chinese words are another phonetic translation of the original English lyrics, the sound eventually articulated by the singer appear to be the badly pronounced English words.

Deceiving the audience into speaking a language badly might be cunning. However, through the absurdity and a comic surface, this work provokes questions about the multiplicity of the cultural sign of the language, the imitative nature of the phonetic translation and the power structure in a multicultural site formed by the translation and mimicry. By addressing and normalizing the practice of phonetic translation, this video places the viewer in the middle of two actions: speaking and self listening; in the intersection of two languages: Chinese and English; and in the centre of the negotiation of different cultures. This site is analogous to Bhabha’s “the third space”.

An academic reflective writing about this work can be read at the link of a PDF file.  

The installation view of the video at the Victorian College of the Arts, 2016. Photography by Vivian S Cooper.

The installation view of the video in the exhibition titled Upside Down Fengshui, at 'Changing Places' program, Linden New Art, 2017. Photography by David Marks.

The installation view of the video in VCA master graduation exhibition 2017. Photography by Janelle Low.

The cinema view of the video at Channels Festival 2017, Australian Centre for the Moving Images (ACMI).

A Karaoke booth, 2018, The University of Melbourne.

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Publicity

"The National Anthem of AO-SSU-CHIU-LEE-YA Q&A with Siying Zhou”, Liminal Magazineposted by September 5, 2017. Link

Using Format