When the Cricket Sings

Sara Angelucci

2007, 08:30 minutes, colour


When the Cricket Sings was inspired by the ancient Chinese tradition of capturing and caging crickets, admired for their fertility, kept in homes for their song, and used as entertainment because of their fierceness (crickets fight to the death). The video offers a nocturnal glimpse of Shanghai street life, depicting one of the typical neighbourhoods disappearing under the city’s urban development. The improvised soundtrack is a duet orchestrated for the ancient Chinese instrument the guzheng1 and for the cricket that sings only at night. Offering a glimpse of a disappearing culture, the video makes reference to our use and abuse of nature, China’s phenomenal development serving as the backdrop for our precarious demand on the natural environment.

1 The guzheng, Chinese forerunner of the Japanese koto and Korean kayagum, originated over 2300 years ago and is one of the oldest plucked instruments in China. Because of its melodic qualities, the Guzheng was extremely popular for both court and folk music. The sound box is made of paulownia wood; the strings, varying in number from thirteen to twenty-five, used to be made of silk, but are nowadays metal or nylon. The instrument has a range of more than four octaves.

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