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Sound Route: Songs of Specx
WU Chi-Yu, Musquiqui Chiying, Shen Sum-Sum


performance/ mixed media

Using oral history and musical sound collection, Sound Route aims to reflect on both the modality of contemporaneity and political relations among different regions that have been shaped by transnational trade and globalization since the colonial period. The three artists take up the historical memory of Formosa as their point of departure, but the project is meant to be a comprehensive, multi-thread survey of the early modern history of East Asia that highlights the synchronicity of the historical development of different areas and the diversity of post-modern traits.


Songs of SPECX focuses on the story of Saartje Specx (1617–1636), a historical figure whose experiences serve as a basis to explore the early modern history of trade in Japan, Indonesia, and Taiwan. Saartje Specx was the daughter of a Dutch merchant and a Japanese woman. In accordance with its strict policy of excluding foreigners, the Dutch East India Company forcibly deported such natural children to Batavia (now Jakarta), Indonesia, where they were rounded up for control. While there, Saartje was embroiled in a major scandal which left her no choice but to marry the evangelical minister George Candidius and follow him to Taiwan. Her story not only represents a microcosm of the colonial history of an island, but it also epitomizes thousands upon thousands of ciphers of her time subjected to the whims of a cruel fate. Against this general background, records on cases like Saartje’s involving mixed-blood girls and forced migration have been available in Japan and Taiwan where they have even inspired the lyrics of popular songs. By construing pop music as musical interpretations of oral history and employing sounds and melodies as abstract media, Sound Route: Songs of SPECX, sets out to deconstruct and compare the stories and migration routes of these women, thereby composing an alternative time axis and route map which chronicles the evolution of capitalism in early modern East Asia.

Sound Route Songs of SPECX The Singing_T
Sound Route Songs of SPECX The Singing_T

Sound Route: Songs of SPECX “The Broadcast”

Original Air Date: September 11, 2016  18:00

BCC Formosa Network FM105.9 ‘Family unity between Employer and Laborer’

Rebroadcast: September 11, 2016  19:00

BCC Chiayi Station FM 104.3

Sound Route Songs of SPECX The Broadcast
Sound Route Songs of SPECX The Singing_T

Sound Route: Songs of SPECX “The Singing”

Multi-Media Performance at TFAM, Brilliant Time Bookstore, and TCAC

Sound Route Songs of SPECX The Singing_b

Sound Route: Songs of SPECX “The Song”

Everyday at 13:00, max. 5 minutes,

Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Courtyard of Basement

Sound Route Songs of SPECX The Songs.jpg

Image courtesy of Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Sound Route: Song of SPECX #1 

Global Radio Station FM 90.9, Surabaya, Indonesia


This performance was delivered in October 2015 at the Global Radio Station located in Surabaya. Three members of the project attended the program hosted by Miss Chang, the first Chinese DJ of the first Chinese radio station established in the so-called New Order Era. Starting from introducing the Taiwanese oldie Romance in Anping and the Chinese love song Sweet as Honey adapted from an Indonesian ballad, their performance vividly evoked all kinds of associations for the oceanic Asian people about the far shore. Arisen as a result of historical legacies since the Age of Discovery in the seventeenth century, these associations have shaped heterogeneous local cultures through the interaction and communication between different ethnic groups, languages and pop-music industries.

Sound Route: Song of SPECX #2 

Rijksakademie Live Radio, Amsterdam, Netherlands 


This performance was delivered in November 2015 at the Rijksakademie Live Radio, Rijksakademie OPEN. It introduced the female protagonists delineated by the exotic pop songs popularized across different commercial port cities on East Asian islands. According to the historical materials of the United East Indian Company in Batavia (now Jakarta), these females were epitomized by the adopted daughter of Jan Pieterszoon Coen, a Dutch explorer in the Age of Discovery. The daughter of the ocean had left traces across several East Asian islands (nowadays Nagasaki, Jakarta and Tainan) during her lifetime. Her legendary pedigree had also indirectly influenced the pop music/sound of the oceanic Asian culture, weaving a cultural network flourishing in the trade winds. 

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