Tag: documentation

Documenting sound art events using field-recording

Building on the Audiograft 2011 Sound Diary, and the experiences of working with Valeria Merlini at Tuned City and Audiograft 2012, Felicity Ford has produced a radio show for the framework:afield series which can now be heard and downloaded here.

information & tracklist

this week’s framework:afield has been produced in the uk by felicity ford, and is a collection of thoughts and recordings exploring the idea of documenting sound art events. It features recordings created in summer, 2011 at the tuned city tallinn festival during the framework radio documentation and production workshop, which was run jointly by felicity and valeria merlini, and also recordings made by felicity at the audiograft festival in oxford in 2011. this is the first of a 2-part series exploring sonic documentation; the next edition has been jointly produced by felicity and valeria, and will feature recordings from this year’s audiograft festival. It’s hoped that this first show will set the scene for some of the documentary tactics which the pair have been developing in their work together over the past year.

(details of utilised recordings)

Open Field (1980) by Pauline Oliveros (the score is read)
Heikou by Radu Malfatti, performed by the SET ensemble at the Concept as Score Concert, Audiograft 2011
Interviews with students at Oxford Brookes & David Grundy, who went to the Concept as Score Concert, Audiograft 2011
Rhodri Davis speaking about performing in For Rilke at the Concept as Score Concert, Audiograft 2011
For Rilke by Sarah Hughes, performed by the SET ensemble at the Concept as Score Concert, Audiograft 2011
For a drummer, fluxus version 2 by George Brecht, performed by Patrick Farmer
Geophone in the ground, recording by Shirley Pegna as research for her piece at Audiograft 2011, Ground Sound.
Valeria Merlini and Felicity Ford sounding the gates, the metal, the space around the Linahalle in Tallinn, Estonia, 2011
excerpt from the introductory session at the framework radio – documentation and production workshop in Tallinn, Estonia, 2011, where Felicity Ford demonstrates that the edirol recorder is recording
Sound Collage from Audiograft 2011 pre-event podcast, feat. Ray Lee, Shirley Pegna, Stephen Cornford, Mike Blow, Paul Dibley and Paul Whitty, and works by those practitioners, including Murmur by Ray Lee, Ground Sound by Shirley Pegna, Stephen Cornford’s old reel-to-reel cassette player, Shower Piece by Mike Blow and an electroacoustic composition by Paul Dibley
3 words – a collage of interviews with artists and presenters at the Tuned City festival, Tallinn, Estonia. Recordings made by Kadi Pilt and compiled by the framework radio – documentation and production group
Polishing by George Brecht, performed by Patrick Farmer and Saragh Hughes at Audiograft 2011
eBows placed inside a piano in the Richard Hamilton Building, Oxford Brookes University, by Paul Whitty during a performance at Audiograft 2011
Stephen Cornford playing the piano and performers dragging benches around the Richard Hamilton Building, Oxford Brookes University at Audiograft 2011
Sounds of Tallinn sound collage compiled during the framework radio – documentation and production group workshop at Tuned City, Tallinn, 2011
Derek Holzer introducing Tomas Ankersmit’s performance in the Linahalle at Tuned City, Tallinn, 2011
Tomas Ankersmit giving an acoustic tour of the Linahalle during the Tuned City Festival, Tallinn, 2011
Paul Whitty introducing the Concept as Score Concert at Audiograft 2011
Paper Piece by Benjamin Patterson, performed by Dominic Lash, Rhodri Davies, David Stent, Bruno Guastalla and Paul Whitty
Polishing by George Brecht, performed by Patrick Farmer and Saragh Hughes at Audiograft 2011
The section from the short produced during the framework radio – documentation and production group workshop at Tuned City, Tallinn, 2011 where we mixed our field recordings of exploring the Cromatico sonically, as field-recordists, with our recordings of Tomas Ankersmit’s performance in that space
Max Eastley’s Aeolian Device, installed at Oxford Brookes University during Audiograft 2011
Max Eastley discussing the wind, Felicity Ford and Stephen Cornford contemplating/discovering the work
Orange Event Number 24 by Bengt af Klintberg, performed by the SET ensemble at the Concept as Score Concert, Audiograft 2011
Schlingen Blängen (organ performance) by Charlemagne Palestine, performed by Palestine at the Niguliste Church, Niguliste 3, Tallinn, 2011
Sound collage from the framework radio – documentation and production group workshop at Tuned City, Tallinn, 2011 which featured Charlemagne Palestine’s performance, in the context of many other works
Worker at Paterei Prison Fortress talking to us about our entry fee to the prison, then noticing our microphones and letting us go through to make our recordings
Echolocator by Aernoudt Jacobs, performed at Patarei Prison Fortress during the Tuned City Festival, Tallinn, 2011
Tomas Ankersmit giving an acoustic tour of the Linahalle during the Tuned City Festival, Tallinn, 2011
Schlingen Blängen (organ performance) by Charlemagne Palestine, performed by Palestine at the Niguliste Church, Niguliste 3, Tallinn, 2011
Shirley Pegna talking about her installation, Listening through Walls, at Audiograft 2011
The best coffee shop in Tallinn, recorded by Felicity Ford and Valeria Merlini
Paper Piece by Benjamin Patterson, performed by Dominic Lash, Rhodri Davies, David Stent, Bruno
Guastalla and Paul Whitty – discussion about score, then a recording of the performance in the concert
eBows placed inside a piano in the Richard Hamilton Building, Oxford Brookes University, by Paul Whitty during a performance at Audiograft 2011
Electro-acoustic Vocals performed at the Rotermann warehouse by Nisu-Rukkijahu Veski, with seagulls going wild, during the Tuned City Festival, Tallinn, 2011
Alouetta, performed by Felicity Ford and Pierre-Laurent Cassiere, and then deconstructed by Kadi Pilt, Felicity Ford and Pierre-Laurent Cassiere

Audiograft 2011 Diary

In music, we should be satisfied with opening our ears. Everything can musically enter an ear open to all sounds! Not only the music we consider beautiful but also the music that is life itself…the more we discover that the noises of the outside world are musical, the more music there is… in the case of sound, whether the sound be loud or soft, flat or sharp, or whatever you like, that doesn’t constitute a sufficient motive for not opening ourselves up to what it is, as for any sound which may possibly occur.

John Cage, For the Birds, 1981

In 2011, Felicity Ford documented the Audiograft festival, organised by the Sonic Art Research Unit at Oxford Brookes. The recordings that she made of individual events, performances and sound installations are gradually being archived on the University website, and the archive will expand further as new documentation – from this year’s festival – is added. Documentation ranges from interviews with artists about their work; recordings of concerts and sound installations; and recordings of the responses of the public as they viewed and heard the work.

However, there are no picture frames to surround pieces of soundart, and we began this discussion with a quote from John Cage because since his proposition that we should “open our ears” to “any sound which may possibly occur,” the boundaries which separate special “Art Sounds” or “Music” from the din of the world become ever harder to delineate. In the creation of all sonic documentation, or sound recordings of any event, the “music that is life itself” unavoidably leaks in. When documenting events like Audiograft, the resulting recordings contain not only the words of artists or the sounds of their work or the reactions of the public, but also the spaces in which such words or works are heard; the timbre of halls and rooms; and the background chatter of “Non-Art” sounds.

Therefore, the documentation of Audiograft 2011 contains the creaks of the wood in the Holywell Concert Hall as much as it contains the sounds of Orange Event Number 24 by Bengt af Klintberg; the sound of students crashing through the foyer and chit-chat at the Audiograft 2011 launch between the wine and the nibbles can be heard as clearly as the George Brecht piece which was performed there; and recordings of performances and installations created at Audiograft 2011  also document passing sirens, the coughs of strangers and the beat of high-heels clacking in the vicinity. To the post-Cagean field-recordist – whose ears are open to “all sounds” – there is no problem with this type of documentation, which situates Music or soundart in the rich, sonic contexts of the world, and which records that when the “Art Sounds” were happening, people were talking and laughing, a woman passed by in noisy shoes, and an ambulance wailed in the street.

The process of documenting a festival like Audiograft presents a rich, imaginative situation to the field-recordist whose interests lie in documenting everyday life, and to whom everyday, incidental sounds are as interesting and as important as the “special” sounds purveyed at cultural events. Such a field-recordist, interested in the idea of recording everyday life in sound, will have trouble accepting the distinctions between special sounds and ordinary non-art sounds, and will tend towards subverting those borders in some way, or at least testing their flexibility. The Berlin Sound Diary by Paul Whitty is one such instance of this; the ordinary sounds of eating and travelling are positioned beside the sounds of the performance Whitty and Cornford gave in a gallery at Berlin, and are conversely then in turn made special through the processes of archiving and editing, and through their presentation here.

Perhaps it is not important to resolve the distinctions between “the music we consider beautiful”  and “the music that is life itself”; nor to attempt to delineate borders between those two realms. Perhaps instead the post-Cagean situation – in which there is no hierarchy of sounds – can be seen as a rich seam of complexity to be mined and explored indefinitely. For the purposes of documenting events such as Festivals, one such project might involve recording processes and procedures which point the microphone around, beside, before, after and beyond the duration of the Designated Cultural Experience as well as at it, so that the resulting documentation – like the experience of attending such events – can be read in relation to the surrounding sounds of the world. Conundrums can be created such as “is this a recording of a concert, or the recording of a man coughing while a concert is happening?” or “is this recording the sound of a man talking about the wind, or the sound of the wind with a man talking in it?”

To explore the complex nature of documenting special “Art Sounds” in more depth, Ford will be co-running a documentation workshop at Audiograft 2012 along with Valeria Merlini. You can apply to take up one of the limited places on this workshop by emailing felixbadanimal[at]hotmail[dot]com. Expect to ask yourself:

What will I record?
How will I document an event?
How will I tell the story of a Designated Art Experience?
Will I distinguish between special and unspecial sounds? How?
When will I switch the record button on and off?
What is worth recording?
How will the act of documentation frame how an end user experiences the original work?

In the meantime, throughout February 2012, a selection of recordings from Audiograft 2011 will be shared here as a Sound Diary, like a series of sonic snapshots of moments from the festival; though without framing, and without borders, and filled with the overspilling sounds of the surrounding world.

The first Sound Diary entry from Audiograft 2011 is: The sound of the corridors in the Richard Hamilton Building, where a performance of George Brecht’s piece, Polishing, was taking place. The performers – Sarah Hughes and Patrick Farmer – were polishing a violin and a double-bass, respectively. Chatter, doors, folks passing by, and the exhibition launch event were also happening and sounding in the same space.

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