Sonic Kung Fu 2 / Mike Lai

Commissioned by ZERO1 with support from the James Irvine Foundation

Performed by Charming Hostess

For the festival, a live chorus will re-create fight scenes from the genre by using their vocal cords and body percussion.  The singers will accompany the physical performances of cinematic fighters with their own.  So, rather then throwing a punch, the performers will vocalize “swoosh” of their sleeves and slap their thigh to signify their punch landed.

This project is a continuation of my investigation of cinematic and performative strategies in Kung Fu genre films.  It began from a basic idea that most sounds we hear in a film are not the actual noise recorded from where the scene takes action.  Most of the time, they are noises produced by objects, or constructed through digital technology, added on after the film shoot. I am intrigue by how the contradiction of a realistic action juxtapose with an artificial sound can create such an authentic and believable experience in my mind. I intent to emphasize the importance of sound effects in filmic experience, while at the same time, noting how the experience is also fabricated. 


September 14, 2012, 6:00pm - 12:00am
S. 1st Street (from San Carlos to Reed)
SoFA District, San Jose

Mike Lai

lives and works in San Francisco, CA

Artist website


Mike Lai was born in Hong Kong in 1980, and came to the United States as a student in 1993. He received his BA from Davidson College, North Carolina and MFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 2005. His work has been exhibited nationally, including San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, GenArt San Francisco, Queen’s Nails Annex Gallery and Southern Exposure. He received an Individual Artist Commission from the San Francisco Arts Commission in 2007. Mike Lai lives and works in San Francisco.

Charming Hostess is a music ensemble at the intersection of voice, text and diaspora consciousness.  Founded by Jewlia Eisenberg in 1998, their mission is to make lovely noise about complex ideas. 

THeir most recent performance installation was The Bowls Project (YBCA 2010), based on Babylonian amulets of sex and magic. Previous recordings include Sarajevo Blues (Tzadik, 2006), settings of Bosnian resistance poetry, and Trilectic (Tzadik, 2002), a look at the political-erotic world of Walter Benjamin.  ChoHo’s music has been curated into the Prague Bienalle, the Museum of Peace in Uzbekistan, and the SF Contemporary Jewish Museum.