This is a collection of interviews with contemporary sound artists who use field recording in their work. From its early origins in wildlife sound and in ethnographic research, field recording has expanded over the last few decades into a diverse range of practices which explore and investigate aspects of the lived environment, from the microscopic to the panoramic, through the medium of recorded sound. These conversations explore the fundamental issues that underlie the development of field recording as the core of their activity. Recurring themes include early motivations, aesthetic preferences, the audible presence of the recordist and the nature of the field.
Conversations with Andrea Polli, Annea Lockwood, Antye Greie, Budhaditya Chattopadhyay, Christina Kubisch, Davide Tidoni, Felicity Ford, Francisco López, Hildegard Westerkamp, Hiroki Sasajima, Ian Rawes, Jana Winderen, Jez Riley French, Lasse-Marc Riek, Manuela Barile, Peter Cusack, Steven Feld and Viv Corringham.
For quite a long time I was convinced that Field Recording is just another technique or tools of artistic mode under the label 'sound art,' however, through this book I learnt that field recording is not merely a tool. It is an autonomous art form that could work properly with other disciplines like anthropology and ethnography - which is perfectly explain by Steve Feld. It is important to note the position of field recording in the recent years; as an art form, documentary, geographical mapping and musical output.
I am fascinated by the list of questions asked by Cathy Lane and Angus Carlyle in this book. One of the question that I think really important is the notion of artist/recordist existence within the recording. Most of the artist answer is mostly lied on the idea to conceptualised the notion of performative aspect in the recording process - Jez Riley French even said that he realised the experiential difference between showing a piece in gallery and performance is the presence of artist's body to the audience. Andrea Polli, in the early part of the book, has a different answer. She thought that the artist presence is consider an insult to the transparency of the audio and addressed the issue of how human is always become a centre in science and art - the idea is slightly reminded me on this philosophical movement Object-oriented Ontology. Many artists in this book stressed their point on the relation of body and recording, and Andrea Polli answered to that question shown how the interviewee's opinion in this book is diverse. Seeking new knowledge through their perspective on how or should we theorise field recording is appealing.
Not only perspective, but artist's experience is also shared in this book. I've been following Hildegard Westerkamp work for quite sometime. Her experience that is written in this book shown the representation and role of women in the 60's Soundscape. Women is under represented and most of the guys who work within the field of sound and recording usually employed women just to be a listener. Westerkamp's experience become a crucial point to rethinking women role on the history of sound art.
Ian Rawes interview in this book is an eye-opening. He talked about the usage of voice in authority and informational announcement machine. He stated that modern system of informational announcement usually use the voice of an older middle-class woman. Certainly thought provoking, considered that I seldom hearing any announcement that is play through speaker have a male voice. However, there is this idea maybe worth to talk about regarding field recording. I don't see any artist in this book that are talking about the ethical issue of field recording - could field recording considered as a voyeuristic act if the subject (or people on the environment that being recorded) not giving their consent? Throughout reading this book I am wondering of this matter and it never discussed. Maybe because it is sound that makes the idea of privacy is dismissed - since we live in an image driven society.
Anyway, I am thoroughly enjoy this book. It is less didactic and more on the perspective.
This book broadened my view on what field recording is and the people behind them, the recordists, and their motivations. I think the interview format gives a much more personal view that is easier to relate to than theoretical approaches to the field. This is one of the few books I have ever felt that I will read it again sometime.
Whether you're considering doing some field recording, are already deep into it, or are simply interested in the sounds of the world, this is a cool book. The interviews here cover a lot of ground, from gear (a little), to all manner of philosophical musings on what it means to sit for hours on end just listening. Maybe something more of us should do? Especially our "leaders"? Required of all: 10 hours/week spent in silence listening to everything but yourself. Now that would be a cool school....