In an infamous murder case that dragged on in Erlin, Changhua County between 1941 and 1944, Lu Chang, a former military conscript in the Japanese army, was accused of killing his comrade in arms Shih A-fang for his money. All evidence pointed to Lu’s guilt but he denied involvement and the case against him could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Ultimately the investigators had someone dress up as Shih’s wronged spirit, which drove Lu to confess his crime, and lead the police to the long missing head of the victim, buried in a sugarcane field. Later a Taiwanese ballad booklet (also called a Koa-á book) The Ballad of the Strange Case of Erlin (Er lin qi an) was based on this story and the song performed across Taiwan.
Murder: Er lin qi an is an “archaeology of sound” piece created by Ting Chaong-Wen and sound artist Yannick Dauby. The artists play a record of the Taiwanese ballad detailing the incident at the sugarcane field where the body was dumped all those years ago. The singing of the story is combined with noises recorded on site. The collision of different sounds in this soundscape creates cracks in time and space that enable viewers to experience the same location at different points in time. In addition to sound, the site installation also includes pieces of melted cane sugar placed on and around records on a long mirror on the floor. This ingeniously crafts a sensory arena made up of visual, auditory, and olfactory sensations. Viewers can linger in the work and experience the changes on site. The slowly melting pieces of sugar or movements in shadow and light refracted from the mirror allow them to perceive the flow of time hidden within the shape and form of the piece. The mix of materials impels us to perceive time as something kinetic. The entire process brings to mind quantum entanglement and, through interaction, it brings us face to face with the ghosts of the past.