Thursday, March 14, 2013
Gig #36: 13 field recordists
'The year has begun with a lively debate regarding the direction and role of field recording. On sites such as The Field Reporter questions have been raised regarding several aspects of field-recording-based productions. Reading a number of posts there are three recurring concerns in the debate:
'1st: the perception that there is an elitism in field-recording which fails to foster an audience beyond other field-recordists. My response: field-recording lacks a strong theoretical structure in which to interpret it – unlike other disciplines which have had centuries of trained thought to support them field-recording is still young and relatively unknown beyond its circle of practitioners. A stronger theoretical base might increase its profile beyond the majority of us whose work only exists on nebulous internet platforms.
'2nd: the rise in cheaper technology has enabled less professional recordists to saturate the pool of field recordings with “second-rate” work. My response: expensive equipment does not guarantee a good ear or a good technique. Nor does it provide interesting ideas on what subject to record. Indeed, starting with low-end equipment can make the recordist much more resourceful and creative.
'3rd: the perception that field recordists are increasingly focussing on sounds from exotic, or developing, locales in a way that reeks of neocolonialism. My response: for those without the financial means these recordings present us with a world we might never experience. Listening to such recordings has the potential to increase our sensitivity and wonder towards the world’s cultural and environmental diversity making us much more likely to respect our global heritage rather than devastate it.
'The tone of some critics in the current debate seems quite harsh, especially when one of the primary aims of field-recording is to promote the experience of listening for everyone rather than a limited, exclusive, few. In any discipline there will always be a hierarchical structure which defines what is of value, a canon to instruct us as to what is “good” and what is “not”. As we have seen in art and literature the inherent danger of a canon is that it benefits some while disadvantaging others. Is this recent debate the beginning of such a process?
'It is true that the time needed to listen to the work of field-recordists can be extensive. Just as there will always be too many books to read, too many galleries to visit, and too many movies to watch, there will also be too many field-recordings to listen to. Narrowing your focus of attention to either a few favourite field-recordists or areas of field-recording, as you would with any other discipline, will overcome this problem.
'Every debate should forward some positive elements so this post will conclude with a promotion of some field-recordists whose work I listen to regularly. By following their work over the past few years I have listened to sounds from all corners of the earth, they have sharpened my ability to listen and broadened my sense of place in the world:
* 'Sebastiane Hegarty: a British artist, writer and lecturer whose recordings have featured on radio and film.
* John Grzinich: an American sound and video artist now living in Estonia, he also co-ordinates the MoKS residency program.
* Des Coulam: a British ex-pat living in Paris, he documents the many sounds of Parisian streets, arcades and subways.
* Vladimir Kryutchev: a Russian reporter and field-recordist who documents the sounds of local village life.
* Magnus Bergsson: an Icelandic field-recordist whose recordings focus on the urban and natural spaces of Iceland.
* Ian Rawes: a reporter and field-recordist for the London Sound Survey.
* David Velez: a Colombian field-recordist whose recent essay “El Coyote” is an immensely insightful and sensitive reflection on why he chooses to record the subjects that he does.' -- Sounds Like Noise
Toshiya Tsunoda Air Vibration Of Elevator Motor Room In Stairwell
'For 15 years, the Yokohama based artist Toshiya Tsunoda has been releasing remarkable acoustic works into a world that he seems to hear like no one else. His CDs are the most idiosyncratic and rigorous to be found among the many field recording releases of recent years, though his work is just as easy to place in the sound art frame. Tsunoda has a background in visual art (he studied oil painting at university) and the idea of landscape permeates his practice. “The most important thing for my field work is the possibility of describing the experience of landscape,” he reports. “I want to know how to fix the experience of landscape. It’s a different method to using photography to fix it. We can see the outline of objects clearly in photographs. But when recording, things are not so clear and it is difficult to distinguish what vibrations travel in the place. It’s like a moving sculpture. I find many possibilities to connect with perception and recognition."' -- The Wire
Aki Onda Bruise & Bite
'The latest collection of Cassette Memories from Japanese field recording maverick Aki Onda comes spun along a grizzled cocktail of bewitched and alienating tape hiss. Cinematic by the project’s distinctive virtue, this warped and distorted concoction arranges spliced chunks of stock excerpts from the artist’s curious expeditions to Mexico: birds screeching, tires spinning, waves crashing, distant pop tunes wavering, and a slipshod assembly of marching street bands, all over a rickety tide of AM crackle and gorged, tumultuous static. This most recent installment is momentous, an exploit that commands one’s attention as a nostalgic journey is curated, across the border, via an assemblage of busted tape recorders and crackerjack manipulation techniques.' -- Tiny Mix Tapes
Annea Lockwood Tiger Balm
'During the 1960s Annea Lockwood collaborated frequently with sound-poets, choreographers and visual artists, and created a number of works which she herself performed, such as the Glass Concert (1967), later published in Source: Music of the Avant-Garde, and recorded on Tangent Records, then on What Next CDs. In this work a variety of complex sounds were drawn from industrial glass shards and glass tubing, and presented as an audio-visual theater piece. In synchronous homage to Christian Barnard's pioneering heart transplants, Lockwood created the Piano TranspIants (1969-72), in which old, defunct pianos were variously burned, "drowned" in a shallow pond in Amarillo, Texas, and partially buried in an English garden. During the 1970s and '80s she turned her attention to performance works focused on environmental sounds, life-narratives and performance works using low-tech devices such as her Sound Ball (a foam-covered ball containing 6 small speakers and a radio receiver, originally designed to "put sound into the hands of" dancers).' -- collaged
Yukitomo Hamasaki The Garden #3
'The Garden is a work based on the methodology of field recording. However, the natural and urban sounds in this work were not recorded by the artist himself. Instead, all sound materials were recorded or downloaded from various websites in the Internet. Yukitomo considers the inside of the Internet as one of the new fields for "behaviors". The field recording sound, both natural and social sound, can be regarded as traces of "behaviors." In The Garden all sound materials were selected arbitrary from the online world, and there are no relationships between each sound. All natural sounds in this piece were recorded in various time and space, and all performed sound were created based on various thoughts, tastes, genres and cultural background. Then, all these sounds were edited to compose as one piece. The Garden is the work with removing personal ID and locality of sound files, then, reconstructing them in the new context.' -- matter recordings
Peter Cusack The Horse Was Alive, The Cow Was Dead
'Peter Cusack is particularly interested in environmental sound and acoustic ecology. He has examined the sound properties of areas such as Lake Baikal, Siberia, and the Azerbaijan oil fields, and is interested in how sounds change as people migrate and as technology changes. In 1998, Cusack started the "Your Favorite London Sound" project. The goal is to find out what London noises are found appealing by people who live in London. This was so popular that it has been repeated in Chicago, Beijing, and other cities. He is involved in the "Sound & The City" art project using sounds from Beijing in October, 2005. Cusack's performances are a central part of the book Haunted Weather: Music, Silence, and Memory (Toop, 2004) by his old collaborator and respected music critic and author, David Toop.' -- collaged
Jason Kavanagh [clm]
'My compositions first begin with a concept. Not a sound, but an impression of what that sound is. This involves an interpretation that is filtered through me. I recognise the Self to be a key constituent of any sound and what I aim to produce are sound pieces that capture the subjective and inter-subjective activity and experiences which underpin the way in which a listener engages with their aural reality. This piece began with field recording, followed by a high level of sound design. The recordings were processed and manipulated into the sounds which you can hear. The sound files were then queued as samples and I recorded a one take arrangement, this arrangement was then gradually sculpted and moulded into the finished work by further alteration of volume, EQ and effects parameters.' -- JK
Christina Kubisch The Magnetic City (excerpt)
'Christina Kubisch belongs to the first generation of sound artists. Trained as a composer, she has artistically developed such techniques as the magnetic induction to realize her sound installations. Since 1986 the artist has added light as an artistic element to her work with sound. Christina Kubisch's work displays an artistic development which is often described as the "synthesis of arts" - the discovery of acoustic space and the dimension of time in the visual arts on the one hand, and a new relationship between material and form in music on the other.' -- discogs
Francisco López Seeds of Bird
'Francisco López is internationally recognized as one of the major figures of the sound art and experimental music scene. For more than thirty years he has developed an astonishing sonic universe, absolutely personal and iconoclastic, based on a profound listening of the world. Destroying boundaries between industrial sounds and wilderness sound environments, shifting with passion from the limits of perception to the most dreadful abyss of sonic power, proposing a blind, profound and transcendental listening, freed from the imperatives of knowledge and open to sensory and spiritual expansion. He has realized hundreds of concerts, projects with field recordings, workshops and sound installations in over sixty countries of the five continents.' -- collaged
Jana Winderen Heated (excerpt)
'Heated is Jana Winderen's blistering live set from her recent trip to Japan as part of 'Norwegian Music Today'. This first CD follows her only other release to date, a 7" vinyl limited edition, Surface Runoff, on Autofact [USA, 2008]. Improvising from recordings taken on field research trips, she forces the power of the hidden to the surface, making the unheard audible. Its a strange world down there; a world of which we know little, replete with its own instrumentation and orchestras. The audio topography of the oceans and the depth of glacier crevasses are brought to the surface. She is occupied with finding sound from its hidden source, like blind field recording.' -- touchshop
Justin Bennett Ovipool
'The widely ranging work of Justin Bennett is as rooted in the audiovisual and visual arts as it is in music. Central to his thinking and his work is a process-orientated approach and an interest in the elasticity of the concept of ’space’. Bennett produces (reworked) field recordings, drawings, performances, installations, photographs, videos and essays. He brings the characteristic potentials and capacities of each medium into every new work, paying no heed to the divisions between these media. Recently his work has focussed on urban development, technological progress and the relationship between architecture and sound.' -- Sounds of Europe
Jez riley French Evening Chorus, Blue Mountains
'My work involves elements of intuitive composition, field recording (using conventional & extended methods), photographic images/ photographic scores and improvisation. In recent years I have been working closely with specific spaces (natural and man-made), capturing moments that connect with a personal sense of place. I am fascinated and passionate about the infinite detail and expanding vistas of life around us, its sights and sounds, often overlooked or hidden, and their ability to help us experience anew the environments in which we spend our time. My creative output focuses on this never ending, joyous exploration and has increasingly involved a closer relationship with audible silence, active listening, stillness & the empathy of compositional lines. These evolved from my need to always remain open to my emotive, intuitive response to situations & environments’ -- JrF
Roel Meelkop Live at kuS
'Roel Meelkop (1963) studied visual arts and art theory at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. His musical activities date back to the early eighties when he started THU20, together with Jac van Bussel, Peter Duimelinks, Jos Smolders and Guido Doesborg. THU20 have released several tapes and CDs and performed regularly in Europe. The working method of THU20 included many discussions about how to compose and why. This period was crucial in forming his ideas and concepts about sound and how to organise it, but it was not until the mid nineties that he was able to fully realise these ideas. The purchase of a sampler and later a computer radically changed his possibilities of working with sound, offering infinitely more control and freedom. Since then he has worked steadily on a body of work, most of which was recieved enthusiastically in the small but dedicated world of sound art.' -- kOAN
Hiroki Sasajima In A Crowd
'I’ve long been fascinated by the detail of sound, whether in a dense audible field or in the quietest environment. Indeed, it is locations we think of as ‘still’ that draw me in most. The actual spaces that we human beings inhabit in everyday life, of course, are always closely connected to theirs. From a bush in our yard, a park at a city street corner, to areas that are rural, a myriad of communities exist in various places. In Japanese culture, appreciating the sounds of insects is a tradition that goes back to olden times, their sounds enjoyed as songs, a voice or a message from another creature. Many such sounds exist in the changing of the seasons and in a delicate natural environment, certain to keep stimulating our own sensibility.' -- Hiroki Sasajima
p.s. Hey. ** David Saä V. Estornell, Well, hi there, David! Lovely to see you! I don't think the concept of late applies around here, so no worries. ** Un Cœur Blanc, Hi! Very, very excellent and beautiful words about Blanchot's 'désoeuvrement'! What a pleasure and a great clarifier. Thank you so much! ** Misanthrope, Haven't hitchhiked since I was maybe 16. No fucking way. Yeah, re: Self, to each his own, etc., always. ** S., Hey. I don't get MC being beautiful. I just think he's a cool seeming guy. In love, worse, yeah, that perception of oneself when in love happens, but it always seem like defensiveness or something? Everyone, S. made a blond Emo boy stack on his blog called 'Butterscotch Nuts', if you like. My fave is Send Swedish Fish. ** Wolf, Wolf! The nearly here Wolf! I don't think MC's trajectory has had overt tragedy in it. I think that's all media overlay. So, you're coming tomorrow now? The snow thing is really that bad? Strange. I think trains, etc. are back to mostly working order over here. Anyway, give the alert when you hit this soil. Can't wait! ** David Ehrenstein, Hey. Well, like I said, I haven't followed every minutiae of the trial, but I have followed it, and, based on what I know, I don't agree at all. Back when I was researching sex murder, serial killers, etc. for my work when I was younger, I let myself go pretty far in trying to experience what such things would be like, and how one could accomplish them, choosing 'victims', etc., never with any remote idea of doing anything in the real world, and it seems to me that the guy was at least quite possibly or quite likely just getting into his fantasy, and scaring/exciting himself by edging towards 'doing it'. I'm going to read further, but, right now, I'm of the opinion that he was largely convicted because the jury were freaked out by the detailing of his fantasies that were presented in court, and that they were incapable of understanding the difference between imaginative indulgence and actual real world crime planning. So far, that makes the most sense to me. ** James, Ha ha, I was going to say. Glad you liked it, man. ** Cobaltfram, Hi, John. No, I didn't read it yet 'cos I was busy and out all day/evening, but I will today. The occasional long book still calls. But I always preferred the shorties. European-style. Most of the French novels that I think are great are at least relatively short. If I can help it, I'll never read another Henry James novel as long as I live, and I can't imagine ever actually reading Proust. Just don't care enough. Thanks for the 'Pli Selon Pli' excerpt/vid. I'll do that today too. No, didn't do the 'Atomic' thing either yet. Yesterday got eaten. I have a feeling that the Boulez will be the more immediately enjoyable to me. The stranger and more dissonant or whatever, the more comfy I become. But we'll see. No, I can't tell about the translation, but my friend Zac looked over it yesterday and pointed out a bunch of problems, and he's going to fiddle a bit and see if he can right it. I'm mostly working on the novel in my head right now. I need to conceptualize how to make what I'm thinking about work, and some possibly workable forms and shapes and structures are starting to come to me. I'm going on a trip in about a week and a half with a friend that's specifically intended for us to hold up in the 'middle of nowhere' and work on our respective works and some collaborative stuff, so I'm mostly organizing and planning ahead for that. I never met MC. I ate in the same restaurant with him once. Catty Will Self story? No. I'm not very catty or into dishing, really. I saw your email. Thanks! I'll open it today! ** Paul Curran, Hi, Paul! Really, really great to see you! I'm back here for about a week and a half. Yeah, much traveling lately and for the foreseeable future too. Speaking of, I'm finally going to Japan! For about three weeks or so with a friend in June! If it's okay, I would love to hit you up for tips and etc. when the time gets closer. When do you move there? Wow, that's a very harsh series of life blows. I'm so very sorry about your friend -- I don't need to tell you about my sympathies re: that -- and, God, all the best wishes in the world for the mums, and, yeah, let's talk/Skype when you're ready. That would be good. You're in the next Cityscapes? Awesome! What a good mag! Love to you too, P. ** Chris Dankland, Hi, Chris. No, I haven't read MC's book, but, after reading/posting that intro, I actually really want to. I thought that was terrific. The 1000th post! Congratulations, man, and such a 'job' so extraordinarily well done! Everyone, the mighty Chris Dankland celebrates the 1000th post on his seminal THE NEATO MOSQUITO ALT LIT FIREWORKS SHOW site featuring, in his words, 'a long list of [and related linkage to] the 240 or so people I've featured on there since starting it...' This is momentous, folks! Head over there! ** Will C., Hi, Will. No, no click with Self. More click with Burroughs. That Ohio shooting got strangely lowkey coverage. I think some proximate, more theatrical high school shooting pulled the headlines out from under it or something. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. ** Steevee, Hi. I'm still not enthusiastic about the Bowie, and I'm still putting my finger on why. I would certainly imagine that MC has done drugs, yeah, and so what, but the 'heroin addict, near-death' stuff seems completely fabricated. He gets skinny, grows out his facial hair, and the crap starts flying. He's been extremely pale forever. Like I said, I ate across a restaurant from him once when he was maybe 14 or so, and he looks like a ghost at the best of times. Anyway, drugs, sure, why not, but self-destructive drug spiral seems like bull. ** MANCY, Hey, man! I'm good. Well, I think I'm fighting off a chest cold today, or rather trying very hard to, so, generally great, and not sure today. And you? ** Sypha, Yeah, get that done and sorted and nailed. Wow, lotsa books, and all of a high character, etc. Nice. ** Alan, Yeah, I agree totally about the cop thing. No, I've never read 'Rameau's Nephew'. I'm not sure I've actually ever read more than excerpts and quotes by Diderot, actually. Is it proving fruitful? ** Stephen, Hey! How ultra-great to have you here again, my pal. And with such a beautiful, very 'you' comment. You good? I hope you're getting lots and lots of love for your incredible novel. Big love to you! ** Bollo, Hi, J. Cool, me too, re: MC love. I'm doing really well, thanks. Anne Sexton, wow. I haven't read her since I was a faux-suicidal young poet looking for ways to articulate the misery. Interesting. Was 'Transformations' part of your research? I know, yes, about the Xenakis Mego thing, no? ** Okay. There's a gig up there for you which I hope you will attend between now and tomorrow. Thank you! See you post-that.
Posted by Dennis Cooper at 12:01 AM