Field recordings, trucks and an anthropologist
04/12/2013 · marcin barski
Many artists I spoke to for this blog emphasize that field recording is – or at least can be – a research method. What they mean usually is the research of the soundscape and the acoustic environment, sometimes also the development of one’s own listening skills and techniques. But the spectrum of topics and issues that can be researched with the use of phonography is much wider and does not need to refer specifically to the aurality.
“The interest in the aural perception of the world results from the growing amount of sound production, the development of the multichannel communication and from the digitalization of diverse cultural objects and manifestations. Unlimited possibilities of sound reproduction, archivization, manipulation and distribution lead to desintegration of former borders between sound and music, noise and silence, and the new acoustic practices create new auditive systems of knowledge and identity. In result, we witness the growth in awareness of the importance of sound in various socio-cultural processes.”
This quote comes from an abstract of dr Agata Stanisz’s lecture on the potential of sound research in anthropology, explaining quite well her approach towards using field recording in scientific study. I’m quoting her because her phonographical research practices may be quite interesting for the readers of this blog.
Dr Stanisz works and teaches at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, she’s an anthropologist, one of quite many areas of her study is acoustemology. She’s also an active field-recordist, putting much focus and attention in documenting the city of Poznań from an anthropologist’s perspective.
The specifically interesting thing about her work is how much it is located on the border of documentation and art. The scientific value of her work does not disturb a great listening experience once her recordings are played out of context. For example her research on the truck drivers included her travelling throughout Europe in a truck, documenting the journeys with the recordings of the drivers’ conversations, the constant noise inside the truck cabin, as well as the parking lots’ ambience etc. Dr Stanisz has published some of her recordings on a website being a sort of road diary, a sound journal of the experience. You can listen to some of those sounds at the Transportodrone project’s website (use newer/older buttons to navigate between text, images and sound documentation of the trip).
Her other sound-related activities include sound-(and not only)-mapping of Poznań, anthropological podcast and field-recording-as-a-research-tool workshops for students. Her website (Miasto Dźwięków / The City of Sounds) is also a kind of a soundblog as you can find there occassional field-recordings she’s made in Poznań. Her profile on Freesound is a great collection of recordings of both, informative/documental and artistical nature.