It all began as a proposal, emailed to Bonny Zhu, cc. Leah Zakks, of the British Council, 12 January 2006: –
As I think you are aware, Leah and I had a meeting yesterday concerning how I would like to pursue my commission for the Sound and the City project, Shanghai. I made the proposal that I would like to have a Chinese version of my Sonic Bed built in Shanghai by Shanghainese craftspeople. That this bed would use the same design I conceived of and made here which you enjoyed at the South London Gallery, but that it would be built with Chinese materials, and upholstered in Chinese fabric and use a Chinese sound system.
I will also make a new sound work for the bed using recordings I make/have made from Shanghai. Leah was in full support of the idea, which I would like to explain would be part of a worldwide series of beds I make over the years, each one made with the materials of that country, playing a new sound work made from the sounds of that country, with the Shanghainese version being the first.
In order to achieve this, I would need your support to find and secure the best craftspeople to build the bed to the highest possible standard, as well as find the venue that would safely house it. As much as i enjoyed meeting Biljana and visiting the Doland Gallery in December, I think that we would need to find a venue/space that would be more accessible to everyone on a day to day basis. Leah and I were thinking about public spaces such as a room in a shopping centre/a tea house/summer house in a park/a museum/a library. I am sure you have many ideas too and know that you also understand how crucial this aspect of the work is.
Long term, ideally I would like the bed to remain in an accessible location in Shanghai with it being possible for composers/groups of young or old people to work with me to make their own works for the bed. That each bed in each country gradually grows its own library of works made by the people of that place.
I am sure you will agree therefore that I will need to return to bring the bed designs, meet the appropriate builders and makers, discuss materials, visit and view potential spaces and organisers, look at and choose fabrics for the upholstery, as well as make any further sound recordings and arrange the projects documentation.
I think this is all for now. I hope you are as excited about this idea as I am; please let me know. I feel that if we were able to make Sonic Bed_Shanghai, it would be a fabulous achievement and a big step in bringing new music and maybe some new ideas about listening to everyone.
Looking forward to hearing from you,