Pound it!


Kexin Hao, Rachwill Breidel, Tingyi Jiang

Sticky rice cake, known as “mochi” in Japan, “nian gao” in China, “chapssal-tteok” in Korea and “tikoy” in the Philippines, is an East and Southeast Asian cuisine traditionally consumed during the Lunar New Year. Glutinous rice is processed into sticky paste, then moulded into shapes, folded with stuffings, or cooked again with other ingredients.

Despite numerous variations, its traditional preparation always includes pounding: cooked glutinous rice is placed in a knee-high mortar, ground, pounded, and kneaded by hands. The modern household appliance provides a high-speed, automated solution to the making of sticky rice cake. But the laborious and cooperative manual pounding session of the old days can’t be replaced. Hit after hit, the rice becomes grainless and transforms into a solid, cohesive, and viscous entity. The chewiness and clinginess is a mouthful of luxury to be enjoyed only once a year.

The rice-pounding utensils are self made and adapted into motion sensitive percussion instruments. Through whipping the mallet and dropping the pestle in designed rhythmic patterns, we produce alternating bass beats to electronic Caribbean music which is live composed on site. With the increasing viscosity and elasticity of the rice, the pounding movement develops along and shapes the choreography on stage. In the end, we serve the sticky rice cake to the crowd and eat together.

With this work, we challenge the conventions of electronic music by bringing organic and manual elements into the live composition. Rice is the central force that mutually influences all the other elements—the movement, the rhythms, the music, and the crowd. All is about cooperating, conversing, and synchronising. We also want to introduce a new way of clubbing by diminishing the necessity of the binary set up: a DJ booth in front of a dance floor. Clubbing can grow out of an activity, a type of labour, a food preparation process, a catering service…

A spoonful of unusual intimacy is to be experienced within the mouth and within the crowd. But before the rice is served, we pound it!

work is developed during Kexin’s Summer Session residency 2022, supported by V2_Lab for the Unstable Media

Traumburg Festival,
August, 2022

V2_, Test_Lab:SUMMER SESSIONS 2022
Rotterdam, Netherlands
September, 2022