Dongshih Fish Market, 09.12.08 東石魚市場

" I have visited Penghu many times in the last four years. But I never have been able to record a fish market : nowadays, the selling is organized electronically, and no interesting sound is produced. This is not the case here, in Dongshih, where is held every afternoon a traditional fish market. This happen under a wide reverberant space, where all voices are melting into a loud whisper. People come to see the fish and they discuss about the quality, the freshness and the prices of the sea foods lying on the floor. Sometimes a voice annouces something through loudspeakers. Sometimes some big plastic container are pushed and fall, producing a very loud drum sound : "Boum" ! The workers are sorting the fishes, orgazing them into categories, and when the throw them into buckets, it makes a discrete slapping sounds : "Slap" ! But what is the most surprising is when the sea products needs to be put on the floor. The fishes, shrimps and other animals are organized into patterns : lines of small piles, reminding me land art. At least two women are working for doing these patterns of fishes. One is throwing a bucket containg a few fishes, it bounces on the floor with a big "clac !" and glide on the wet concrete floor during several meters "Shhrrrr !", and the second lady catch it and suddenly reverse it, throwing its content on the floor with another short "clac". The operation is repeated many times until the floor of the whole building is covered with piles of fishes. 

Then a strident blast of whistle comes from an area. People gathered in this direction. A man holding a notebook wait above one of the piles of fish. When people become attentive, he starts. He's recitating monotonously in taiwanese. His words are decreasing numbers, corresponding to the decreasing price of the fish. When someone decide to buy it at the spoken price, he will give the man his personal name stamp. The guy use it on his notebook, write the price, tear the page, and give it to the customer. Then he restart his vocal process on the next pile of fish. All the potential customers are silent, attentive to the prices. Therefore the man who organize the selling doesn't need to speak very loudly. And if one moves off a little bit, he won't be able to hear correctly the prices. So it is a quite intimate selling, something I've never witnessed in Taiwan ! The sound ambience and different sonic events of this fish market are a very strong experience. For sure customers, fishermen and sellers would be able to recognize it when it'll disappear, replacing the voices of the people by digits on screen... “ (Yannick Dauby)




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