I had been exploring the idea of using sounds to recall memory; just as certain smells will remind you of individuals or occasions, I had been awakened to the idea that sounds would do the same. While listening to Episode 11 at Radius, the “chasms of vibrant static” short wave radio produces when tuning between stations brought the memory of playing with my older brothers ‘boombox’ as a youth. During a summer evening at dusk on my parents back deck, turning the large tuning knob searching for voices from far away, and the glowing red LED’s monitoring the volume, it is a strange and vivid recollection.
So my project was to put together sounds that might have a similar impact, and what better way than to record our family’s camping trip over a weekend in August. My intention was to gather general sounds that would be specific to camping: the sound of a tent zipper, night sounds, water, a campfire, and although I did these things, as I listened back it became a much more personal piece than was originally intended. The conversation between my youngest daughter and I as we walked a trail, or the hushed voices of my eldest son and I as we sat on the river’s edge taking long exposures of the hydro dam at night with the 35mm, my wife washing up our two year old before bed with water warmed over the fire. It becomes a biographical record, a moment in time in our families lives, but in a much different way than looking at photos or watching a home video.
It was an excellent exercise to focus my attention looking for sounds that I was going to record. We rely strongly on our sense of vision to get us where we are going, to gather information, to entertain; our hearing seems to be a secondary sense unless we pull it forward as when we listen to music. Field recordings are probably not something you listen to while cooking dinner or focusing on office work, but can be quite experiential if listened to at a opportune moment.
If you were going to record a moment in your life, what might it be? Willing to share?