American Ghosts

Erica Huang

American Ghosts was sound designed, edited, and composed by Erica Huang with editorial support from Jess Shane. It features excerpts from conversations with Leah Huang and Terence Heng, a lecture from Terence Heng, and a video from Far East Travel.

Erica writes:

This is an exploration of honoring the dead across time, language, and American assimilation. An audio altar for Taiwan's Hungry Ghost Festival created through many layers of guessed translation.

I chose to focus on the house that I'm living in, which was my grandparents' before they passed away a year ago, and the objects that they left behind. Me and my sisters' engagement with these objects is like visiting an archive whose language we don't speak. I tied this experience to the Hungry Ghost festival in Taiwan, where our grandparents were from— the folklore goes that ancestors who don't have any descendants to worship them will roam the streets during hungry ghost month. Much like the objects at the house, people will leave out roadside altars of common objects that the ghosts would recognize.

My connection to that religion and way of honoring the dead has been lost through assimilation, and all I have is this crude American altar of these objects and photos to keep that tradition alive.

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