Author Archive

It’s Prison Show(Runlin Huang, 黃潤琳)

In The Silence of the Inmates, Malachi have talked about the silence we encountered in the prison. It’s quite unusual for me to find it so quiet, which never happen in my former recording field in city building or Pinglin’s tea farms. The sound recorder is so sensitive, thus usually it would be really hard to keep people’s voice out even in deep mountain. But in Prison, even a room is filled with more than 100 women working together, I really can’t record any sound coming from people’s conversation. I was once expecting recording some sound or song in the working environment like the Prison Song Yannick once recommended.

Being more specific, It’s not unsoundable, it’s untalkable. Prisoners being untalkable with each other (at least, in the working situation), and being untalkable with visitors like us. But the thing impressed me most, is we are also untalkable with these women prisoners. This kind of untalkable, doesn’t really mean we could not talk with them, but a feeling of no(t) right(s) communicating with them by using daily spoken/body/facial languages and in equal status. We have never been told what is forbidden,  but under that space and circumstance, a strong feeling is telling me, any attempt of getting closer would be inappropriate and even illegal.

For me, it’s a lost of autonomy (e.g. the sound autonomy). It happens not only on sound, but also the sound attempt; not only on prisoners, but also on visitors; not only in the working circumstance, but also the whole visiting process. For example, before entering into the prison, we have to decrease the amount of  record equipments according to the officers’ requirement.

The sound during the Prisoners’ Show and the sound in the Families Waiting Zone, in my opinion, are another kind of lost of autonomy. During the show, it seems that prisoner could sing and dance and smile to we visitors, showing up their learning achievement. But what we should notice is not whether they are smiling truly or not, but how this show is being produced and control. What the prisoners sing or dance on the stage have being selected, and the purpose of this show is to show us how effective and humanistic the governor are, prisoners get more credits to go out earlier, and visitors being moved. All the sound we heard include no free expression, and the purpose of the sound accomplished no deeper understanding or communication with those others. It has an appearance of normal, freedom, better understanding, but in fact it’s just an accomplice for governing.

After getting out of the imprisonment area, we have some time to visit the Families Waiting Zone. At first, i feel much more enjoyable here, for we could finally use all record equipments freely, and there are a lot of sounds here (compare with the horrible silence in the prison imprisonment area), including sound made by family members, the calling systems, and the convenience store. The sound the calling system produced is a sound of a very kind and intimate girl, just like the other daily official systems’ sound we would heard in Taiwan. Everything should be fine except the huge difference between other prison areas’ sound. The Families Waiting Zone, usually functions as the only part outside people could see, now maintains the appearance of the prison. Normal people and media could not see or hear in the inner part, but they would be satisfied by what they could see and hear in the Families Waiting Zone, and that’s enough.

Thus, the (sound) governing keeps prison’s inner part untalkable, and our lost of (sound) autonomy. This field trip recording in prison not only leaves me deep impression on the absent of sound, but also reminds me of how we could possibly know more if we hearing sound from its mechanism of production, function, and the social relation interacting within.


TEAing Satoyama Ping-Lin

TEAing Satoyama Ping-Lin (8’24”)

Run-Lin Huang(黃潤琳) &  Zhang Chih-Yang(張智揚)

This is not only a sound of Ping-Lin, it’s also the action of students who are providing their best care of Satoyama Ping-lin. By working with local tea farmers, organic farming instead of using fertilizer, branding and selling Taiwan Blue-Magpie Tea, the action of Organic TEAgriculture and Blue Magpie Conservation is taken place step by step everyday.

A paper related to Trash


(I scan the paper and here is the link)

This is the article that may related to the Trash Project. Some part of it talks about how a group of people make their living by gathering trash and selling to ordinary citizens. At the end of this paper, the author comments a little bit about the relationship between the lives of these people and the build up of official recycling system. In his opinion, the latter one is now threatening these peoples’ life.

This paper also won the Best Graduate/Doctoral Paper Award from Taiwanese Sociological Association in 2003. The other stories in it are also lively and interesting, very worth-reading.

Wish you good luck~!

Runlin Huang

The soundscape of Satoyama Ping-lin & Taiwan Blue Magpie Tea

【Background Information】

Satoyama[1](里山) is a Japanese word, which refer to the area between city and mountain. While facing environment changes or development shock, the environment and economic in this kind of areas are extremely vulnerable. Ping-lin(坪林), a district in northeast Taiwan, is just an wonderful example of Satoyama which is experiencing huge conversion these years. In order to deal with problems appeared during the conversion, we are taking the Organic TEAgriculture and Blue Magpie Conservation Experiments (simplified as BlueMagpie-Tea Revolution) , to practice some kinds of best care for Satoyama Ping-lin.

As you would have seen in our poster[2], Ping-lin is

(1)     the most famous place for producing Pouchong tea[3].

(2)     its land development is lawfully restricted because of the catchment of Feicui Dam(翡翠水庫) , which ensure drinking water supply for Taipei citizens, is located here.

(3)     has a wealth of more than 110 bird species—including Formosan Bluemagpie(台灣藍鵲), Serpent Eagle(鹫), and Taiwan Whistling Thrush(台湾紫啸鸫), and is also an important habitat for other living creatures and plants.

Everything seems to be alright, until the completion of National Highway No.5 and Hsueh-Shan tunnel(雪山隧道). Since then, Ping-lin is no longer the thoroughfare people have to take to go to the east coast County of Ilan(宜蘭) to spend weekend holiday, therefore this area is bypassed and the local economic drop dramatically.

On the other hand, even the cost of living is rising rapidly in Taiwan, it was hard for us to imagine that there is totally no promotions in tea purchase price for over 30 years. The merchant just make best economical profit and have no concern about the farmer’s livelihood. Consequently, the tea farmers have to increase production and lower labor costs for survival, and the only way to do that is by using herbicides, chemical fertilizers and pesticides.


Therefore, the ecology of Ping-lin starts being unbalanced, and the herbicides caused homogenization of species, and the poisons not only accumulated in those precious birds, but also contaminate our drinking water source Feicui Dam. On the other hand, even by using lots of chemical fertilizers, the life of the tea farmers, no matter on incomes, working opportunities and children’s education, doesn’t receive real improvement. They are still trapped in a situation of unfair trade and no local future.

【What have been done】

Is it possible for us to find out some kind of solution, which could protect ecology, livelihoods and living simultaneously? There comes the Taiwan Bluemagpie Tea Revolution.

Taiwan Blue Magpie has been listed as a rare and valuable species, and it was chosen as Taiwan’s national bird in 2007 National Bird Voting Campaign. Ping-lin is one of the most important habitat for Taiwan Blue Magpie, because the ecology here is very suitable and have enough capacity to to provide satisfied diets for them. As Ping-lin is mostly tea farm, by encouraging tea farmer convert to organic tea farming continuously, the ecology here would rehabilitate years after years.

But, most of the tea farmers don’t want to do that, because the risk of output decline is huge and they really don’t have time and capacity to find out or persuade customers under the unformed organic tea market in Taiwan. Helping them find out the access becomes the first important thing.

To do it step by step, Graduate Institute Building and Planning, NTU have set up New Ruralism Association(新鄉村協會) and New Ruralism Social Enterprise Co., Ltd.(新鄉村社會企業有限公司), to SELL TEA with FAIR TRADE PRISE for those tea farmers who have been persuaded to join non-toxic tea farming. This has sustained over 6 months, and you may have seen us in Tamsui Farmers’ Market(淡水農夫市集), consignment areas of many Café Shops or cultural creative shops,商店街),淘寶), etc..

But, selling tea is just the first step. To prompt Ping-lin into an international organic village, and impel the rebirth of this area, selling tea only is definitely not enough. We are now adding other kind of action step by step, such as open environmental education experience group for city people, providing tutoring for local students in their home, advance community supported TEArgriculture, try for enterprise adoption, and create opportunities for intern to study here.


【Something I want to do】

When talking about Ping-lin, its imagination is still unclear. For most people, Ping-lin is just a rural area like any other ordinary countryside in Taiwan, a place with no distinguishing features and nothing attractive. This chaos gives us opportunities to create unprecedented expounds and narrative for Ping-lin.

Sound and soundscape could be the powerful tool.

According to my record experience in Ping-lin, it would not be a goal or specific standard procedure to do the work. What I could do, is just carrying the record machine, and walk, feel, sometimes get epiphany.

It would be an endless moving procedure, without designated future. We could just enjoy the fun, but never know where we would go.


FB: Runlin Huang


[1] See more:

[2] 仙台報告海報.pdf – (蕭定雄提供)

[3] See more:



This is an interesting website documenting sound, mostly use sounds from particular situation (e.g. Traditional Markets, Old Parks etc.) as elements and edit them into our more familiar “songs”.

I found this website from URS Partner (, sorry they don’t have an english version, but the sound worth a heard.

Hope you like it.

Runlin Huang(黃潤琳)


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