Organized by WDO Member Taiwan Design Research Institute (TDRI), sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan, and curated by Bito, the Taiwan Pavilion presented its Swingphony exhibition at this year’s London Design Biennale, which took place from 1- 27 June 2021.
Taking inspiration from the diversity of religious beliefs and practices throughout Taiwan and the world of physics, Swingphony offers a unique interpretation of the London Design Biennale’s theme of Resonance. Influenced by The Schumann Resonances, a global electromagnetic phenomenon, Swingphony enables visitors to harness natural electromagnetic resonances and experience communal sound rhythms.
The Schumann Resonances are generated by lightning discharges in the cavity formed by the Earth’s surface and the ionosphere, and are 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.
In Taiwan and around the world, praying, song, chants and meditation form a significant part of many religious practices. Communal chanting, praying and meditation are proven to increase Alpha Waves, which are the brain waves most commonly associated with reducing stress. The Alpha Wave’s frequency is between 8 and 12 Hz, similar to The Schumann Resonances.
With the goal of merging both of these worlds, Swingphony invites groups of seven to enter the Taiwan Pavilion – a dark room, with only one lit table in the centre. They are each given a metronome and invited to set it to any speed. Gradually, after about 15 seconds, they begin to swing at the same speed – a phenomenon that only occurs with an odd number of metronomes. Activated by the synchronized frequency, the room then becomes lit by lanterns symbolizing the Taiwanese temples. A short video also starts at the same time, engaging the audience in a truly immersive experience.
Curators hope that Swingphony sparks discussion amongst designers and artists, as well as the general public, and reminds us of the power of unity in a fragmented world – that no matter our differences, we remain deeply connected to one another.