lengthy negotiations, running to months then years, were needed for 2 recording sessions to take place inside the structures of the humber bridge - directly under the carriageway and in the north bank footing tower. eventually permission was granted and, for the first time, a private individual was allowed to make sounds recordings.
care was taken to choose the specific locations and the set the equipment for recording. my normal way of working is to be in the location listening and to record when the moment feels right, but on these occasions that was not possible, as only maintenance and inspection teams are allowed to stay in these restricted spaces.
so, after positioning the contact mics and conventional microphones, I pressed record and returned to the main bridge offices. 4 hours later I was escorted back to retrieve my equipment and, hopefully, 4 hours of recordings. what was actually gathered was around 1 1/2 hours of usable material and a 2 1/2 hour recording of an inspection team walking around the recording locations discussing various technical, structural details. whilst frustrating on one level, it is this kind of unplanned for situation that makes field recording a creative act rather than a mere technical exercise.
the piece presented here features two sections of the recording sessions, in 2008: firstly under the road carriageway and then in the north footing tower.
re-posting / gathering of a few short extracts from experiments with
geophones are measurement devices for monitoring seismic activity. they're not really designed for audio although some are often hooked up to audio recorders - with varying degrees of success. and so, for the past couple of years i've been experimenting with different ways to adapt the geophones to give a decent audio signal. below are some of the resulting recordings....you'll need headphones or proper speakers (not computer speakers) to hear these....
an earlier test, shortly after an initial adaptation of a single geophone - ground spike placed against the railings of the humber bridge....
you'll need headphone for this piece & the geophone recording comes in stronger towards the middle of the piece...
in this piece for tate modern, the end section was recorded using geophones placed on the floor of the turbine hall during the night....the sound we hear is the earth vibration filtered through the structure - mixed with the slight rumble of traffic and the river....a section of this recording was also exhibited at Tate Britain, pressed onto vinyl - it was quite something to watch people trying to hear the sound....
& again, you'll need headphones or speakers (not computer speakers) to hear this track properly - the geophone coming in towards the middle of the piece....
bower floor | dawn chorus with rain | canyon wires
music sits above and under the first impression.
when duration allows these things come into focus, increasingly.
in swifter moments a sense of quietude is possible.
still, finding pace with listening as a lens, moving
recorded september 2012, during time spent following a residency at The Wired Lab, this piece begins with two recordings playing at the same time. One of a bower floor, with contact microphones and geophone (nb. some of these low frequencies will not be audible via computer speakers) alongside a dawn chorus amidst light rain - drops falling centimetres from a conventional stereo microphone. Towards the middle of the piece, a further contact microphone recording enters, revealing one of the most bizarre fence wire sounds i've yet managed to gather. Despite returning to the same stretch of canyon fence several times, this particular effect was only present on one occasion and lasted for around 10 minutes. My best guess is that humidity and the rising temperature combined to create a momentary, unrepeatable and extremely evocative effect on the wires. It is this infinite and unpredictable aspect to listening in situ that continues to fascinate me. Getting closer to and underneath the surface of environments and spaces is a constant revelation, a constant pleasure.
'The second half of the program was curated from open call submissions. It was such a pleasure to finally hear Jez Riley French’s Teleferica recording after reading his previous guest blog about the process of placing contact microphones on teleferica wires used to haul wood from the hills into the village of Topolo in Italy. Initial listening was abstract and gave me a feeling as though I were listening to something from the inside. When I found out it was the contact mic piece that French had written about, I thought about it for a long while later that night – how each leaf or bug or bit of dust grazing the wires became a full, present sound, and how we otherwise simply would never notice'
What would we hear if, on one night, we could enter into a museum of sounds – the sounds that have resonated through the site of Leigh Woods across its history? The echoes of a fire crackling through an ancient camp, or tidal rhythms above a tropical sea bed, three million years ago? Perhaps the sound of the Earth slowly turning, or the groaning of oak trees upon an arctic tundra?
Following a year-long residency with the National Trust, artists Tom Bailey and Jez riley French invite audiences to go with them on a re-exploration of a beloved Bristol landscape, wandering with field recordings in the dark.
Nightwalk 2014, commissioned by Trust New Art Bristol and MAYK as part of Mayfest for the National Trust Leigh Woods.
the 1st edition sold out in just a couple of months ! 2nd edition now available:
'In the Field - the art of field recording'
by Cathy Lane and Angus Carlyle.
240 page book, hand sewn with flaps.
conversations with Manuela Barile, Angus Carlyle, Budhaditya Chattopadhyay, Viv Corringham, Peter Cusack, Steven Feld, Felicity Ford, Jez riley French, Antye Greie, Christina Kubisch, Cathy Lane, Francisco López, Annea Lockwood, Andrea Polli, Ian Rawes, Lasse-Marc Riek, Hiroki Sasajima, Davide Tidoni, Hildegard Westerkamp and Jana Winderen.
cover photo by my daughter (proud dad moment !) Pheobe riley Law
field recording, in all its forms, has been through incredible creative growth in the last few decades & yet its essential power to engage us in the act & art of listening remains inextricably linked to its subtle simplicity, its ability to make us listen ever more closely to the world in which we move by making us stop for a time....
during 2013 I curated several audio screenings - playback sessions of field recording based work - this collection gathers some of those pieces and, in my opinion, offers a fascinating insight into some of the varied approaches taken by the artists / recordists involved.
to london with Pheobe, who takes the best photos of me for certain !
portabello market, rough trade west, nice hotel with a pillow menu !, tate britain to watch the vinyl cut being installed, looking at the turners, tate modern to listen to the full 'audible silence - tate' piece with pheobe, harry callahan exhibition.... interesting (!) to be in the Tate jukebox as part of the british art walkthrough timeline - bowie, eno, dowland, gainsborough, deller, lucas, turner,....& jrf ! er....
'Quiet fields on the way from work' - Skolska 28, Prague Tomáš Procházka, Handa Gote, Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga Lucie Vítková, Jez Riley French, Noid, Peter Graham, Andrea Neumann, Ferran Fages Slávek Kwi, Peter Cusack, Michal Kindernay, Miloš Vojtěchovský, Udo Noll curated by Ivan Palacký January 14.January 29, 2014
from the hundreds of pieces for guitar, cello, piano, analogue synthesiser, zithers and other non conventional instruments, these pieces (recorded between 1990 & 2006) focus on work that sits at a distance from my other creative output.
tracks 3,9,10: clear input pieces
i began using clear input methods as a sole improvisatory element in the early 1990‘s and continued experimenting with the technique until the early 2000‘s. similar to ‘no-input’ this involves using no conventional instruments but rather feeding the output of a device, in my case a guitar effects rack, into the input, creating a feedback loop that is then manipulated by using the same devices parameters only.
the numbering system halts in 2006 at piece number 640, recorded in 2004.
tracks 5,12 : field
early field recordings archives will feature on future releases (perhaps). these two pieces represent a meeting point between various music techniques i have used in the past and field recording.
track 6: tape / wax | collage
much of my tape archive is on reel-to-reel tape and yet to be archived. these pieces, again from the 1990’s as far as I can tell, were recorded using cassette tape sources, loops, electronics and turntable.
all tracks have been taken from cdr archives or the original tape / minidisc source.
perhaps only loosely connected to what i was doing with my other creative interests at the time and since, these tracks represent something tangible - an acceptance of process and exploration
this remarkable public building was, for a time, derelict and on the verge of being demolished. A team of dedicated volunteers and fundraisers have, along with all the other activities that now take place there, given back to the nation a remarkable listening lens.
every building has its own voice, to which is added chorales of the locale in which it sits. I often spend long periods of time listening to buildings and think of it as a privilege and a rare chance to spend time allowing their voices to become fully audible to me. However, asking others to do this at the same time is, I have to admit, often a big ask. We as a species are happy to sit quietly watching something - a view, a picture, a tv or cinema screen, but to sit and listen, paying as much attention to the audible as we do to the visual in our daily lives is something that remains a challenge or a puzzling idea for lots of people.
in the afternoon our small group were free to explore the entire building, listening to it with our ears and with various microphones and devices. During the afternoon break myself & Rae made a recording with small omni microphones in one of the pool sections (tracks 1 & 3), this included playing back into the space a geophone recoding made earlier. In the evening we invited the public to come and listen to this remarkable space (tracks 2 & 4). Some asked what we were listening to or what for ? most expressed surprise at how much they enjoyed the experience even when they perceived that ‘nothing’ was actually being played in the space. That, it seems to me, was a good outcome indeed.
a specially edited 20 minute section of my piece for Tate Modern - 'audible silence - the tate, sleeping & waking' will be the soundtrack in the special family gallery installation - from 21st Dec - 19th Jan....very pleased that younger folks are getting to hear it even more.
A section is also part of the 'Juke Box meets Tate Britain' installation / activity - at the learning gallery, Tate Britain until Feb 2014.
http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/daily-activities/juke-box-meets-tate-britain-audio-recording-sessions-families Juke Box Meets Tate Britain will be based in the new Learning Gallery from 23rd November till the end of February 2014. Devised by sound artist Yuri Suzuki, Juke Box Meets Tate Britain will aim to provide a wide-ranging and accessible sound archive related to Tate Britain's collection. Each week the aim is to also offer vinyl-cutting sessions where visitors and invited guests will be able to create a record to go in the juke box, contributing their personal response to the Tate Britain collection displays.
Unearth the extraordinary creative potential of contemporary audio recording with expert guidance in use of conventional and contact microphones, hydrophones, ultrasonic detectors and geophones. The weekend will combine practical recording and consultation sessions, plus an audio screening of submitted recordings from international field recordists.
This two day workshop runs on the Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 November.