Afternoon Dust

Documenting the Possible: Field Recording as a Site of Desire

There’s an interesting discussion going on over at Caleb Kelly’s Sound Thoughts blog about the nature of field recording to which I’d like to draw attention. To summarise: the discussion centres around Chris Watson’s Ynys-hir Dawn Chorus recording, in which the morning calls of various birds and animals can be heard. Kelly argues that an edit Watson makes in order to cut out the sound of a passing military jet results in a less authentic field recording, because while it seeks to remove traces of human intervention in a natural soundscape, the edit is in fact itself a human intervention, altering the record of what is found.

Arboretum

Arboretum is a short film made with leaves and twigs from the Forest of Blean, a study for a forthcoming larger project on tree dieback. Enjoy!


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Art Book Readers' Survey results

A little while ago I conducted an online survey into how and why people read art books. 14 people took the survey, which isn’t a huge sample size, but for those who are interested, the results can be downloaded here. For those who are interested, but not interested enough to trawl through an Excel sheet full of statistics and charts, here is a summary of the results:

Score for Dance and Sound

You will need 1 or more of each of the following: performer, contact microphone, omnidirectional microphone, mic stand.

You will also need a computer running a real-time audio processing environment such as Supercollider or PureData, and some way of outputting sounds from the computer (inbuilt or external speakers, a PA system, etc.).

Cheriton Lights

The month of February is marked by the pagan festival of Imbolc and the Christian feast of Candlemas; both events are traditionally celebrated with candlelit processions, the light of the candles symbolising the returning warmth as winter wanes. Unfortunately a bitterly cold and snow-filled wind managed to blow away any rumours of spring throughout the weekend of the inaugural Cheriton Light Festival in East Kent, so it was good to see hundreds of people still brave the elements to enjoy two days of light-related art installations, a lantern parade, and a sculptural bonfire.

130210.1644 (flute)

First attempt to make a piece of music using sounds from a flute. I even made a short video to go with it, though panning on my cheap tripod wasn’t exactly smooth!

Here’s the full-length piece:

This download contains a high-quality FLAC file, SuperCollider source code and required audio:

Download archive

Gerard Byrne: A State of Neutral Pleasure

The first time I came across the work of Gerard Byrne was while I was working on the 2010 Whitstable Biennale. We were showing his 2004 film Homme à femmes (Michel Debrane), in which the eponymous actor plays the role of Jean-Paul Sartre in a reconstruction of an interview with the philosopher regarding his relationships with women. Every morning I went to the gallery to switch the projector on, returning to switch it off at the end of the day. My viewing of the film thus consisted of a number of fragments built up over the course of a fortnight, some repeated several times; presumably there were also parts I did not see.

Still snowing

I wrote about Disquiet Junto, an “association for communal music/sound-making” in my end of year review for Fluid Radio recently, but I never got round to actually joining in the fun, until now. Every week a music- or sound-making task is set; for the 55th project the task was to make a track using two piano pieces by Nils Frahm. I made a piece in SuperCollider that fed one of Nils’ tracks through a high-pass filter, the bandwidth of which was modulated using the spectral centroid of the second track. This was then mixed with a clean version of the filtered track.

You can listen to the results here.

Waves

I ran a little experiment to see what sounds I could make from a single field recording using the open source programming environment SuperCollider. You can hear the results in the sound file below - the original recording comes at the end. All of the sounds heard come from analysing and manipulating the recording.

This download contains a high-quality FLAC file, plus the SuperCollider source code and audio files. Feel free to use the code with your own recordings too - I’d love to hear the results! Suggestions for improving the code are also very welcome.

Download archive