Musings on art, nothingness, and the observation of the observations of others. With reference to Walter Benjamin and Niklas Luhmann.
This article is hopefully the first in a series on the subject of field recording. If your goal is relaxation, focus, or just an aesthetic appreciation of sonic texture, this article is an introduction to the best places on the internet to go to hear, and find out about field recording.
Phonography, otherwise known as field recording, is the recording of natural or man-made sounds in-situ and away from the recording studio. But does it produce art or music? In modern music, the line between music and sound has become blurred. Sound and noise play a part in electronic composition that is as important as tone and scale. Today to ask if something is music or noise seems like an out-of-date question.
Like photography is the capturing of light to produce an image, phonography is the capturing of sound to produce a recording. Unlike ‘art’ or ‘music’, which have normative aspects, the words ‘phonography’ and ‘photography’ are matter-of-fact descriptions of a technical act. A bad photo may or may not be art, but nobody says a bad photo is not a photo.
The Radio Aporee project is “a global soundmap dedicated to field recording, phonography and the art of listening”. Field recordings from all over the world are placed on a 3D Google map, along with information about the recordings and recordists. You can explore the world while exploring the variety of sonic textures and landscapes that field recording can offer. New updates are added by its active user base every day.
“Right now, for the preservation of life, the citizen is being asked to isolate by staying remote and staying still. Stillness and fixity after an age of speed and motion – it’s quite a shock. Later art can analyse this time; now it can only chronicle it, notice the way in which, in unprecedented times, new phenomena surprise us.
Here’s one. In a sudden and involuntary response to stillness, people are starting to travel without moving. People are voyaging in their minds to visualize places remote from the ones they inhabit. Stillness and fixity, it seems, have unleashed the volition and freedom of our imaginations. Our minds are supplying what the world cannot: waking visions, nighttime dreams, compensating for our circumscribed existence – healing us by making associations. Overnight we’ve become nomads of the imagination – our minds reaching out to others across the world.
Here is Elsewhere is an essay film about this psychological phenomenon, asking whether transformations in perception will enable us to think and live differently in the future.”
On a cold, snowy evening of the social distanced winter of 2021 we take stock and drift back not so many months to the warm summer of 2019 when this video was shot, on a mini-DV Handycam, in various locations around Felixstowe. The music is inspired by Japanese Environmental music and was composed on Nanoloop IOS. If you want more visit Penname records.
Ambient, atmospheric landscape cinematography, the kind of thing we love at Flatland Frequencies.
This book, published just a couple of months before the death of Kraftwerk co-founder Florian Scheider earlier this year, is a timely retrospective of the band that changed the shape of popular (and not so popular) music forever.
Readers of this blog will no doubt include many die-hard Kraftwerk fans, so this general introduction probably won’t feature much information that is not already known. However, there is still something of interest to be found in this book. Aside from the usual biographies and discographies, Uwe Shütte considers the aesthetic and philosophical aspects that shaped the Kraftwerk sound and ethos.
Sam Winston spent a month living in total darkness. In his blacked-out studio, he created images that were informed by sound, touch and the written word. This film documents his experiences, you can read more on the website A Delicate Sight.
Listen to linguist, anthropologist, philosopher, and author Dan Everett talking about his theory of culture. He discusses exactly what it is, how it exists on a macro and micro level, how it affects our language and our cognition, and how without it, we would die.
Everett spent many decades living with hunter-gatherers in the Amazon jungle. The language of the natives who he lived with, Piraha, is unlike all other known languages in that it has no words for numbers, colours or the future. He explains what his knowledge of the Piraha language, tells us about the intersection of language and culture.
He also talks about the practice of the science of linguistics, animal vs human communication, universal translation, and what unites and what divides us as humans.