The work





In this context, the multi-channel sound composition Decomposing Landscape (Chattopadhyay 2015) developed through extensive field recordings made at specific sites situated in the eastern part of India, close to the city of Kolkata. The work creates a discursive auditory setting to facilitate a contemplative and in-depth observation of transitive landscapes. The final outcome of the project includes an ambisonic sound composition – site-specific field recordings arranged and diffused through multi-channel spatialisation – as well as a multi-channel sound/video installation. The works have been developed through a meticulous collection of materials from various locations of India during extensive phonographic fieldwork. This collection formed a digital archive used to realise the work. The project aims to share an aesthetic interpretation of the gradual transfiguration of developing societies to the wider public, employing post-digital music technology with a hybrid methodology, marked by a technological convergence between old and new applications; aesthetic inclusivity, combining retro and current techniques of sound processing; and artistic freedom in arranging sound through the wider spatial environment of an ambisonic system. The multi-channel sound composition was developed during an artist residency at ICST, Zurich University of the Arts[1] and, upon completion, received first prize in the Computer and Electronic Music category at the Computer Space festival, Sofia, Bulgaria in 2014 [2] and was subsequently released by Touch, London, in 2015.[3] In this work, the sonic representation of the specific sites tends to aestheticise the actual environment of the landscape in the creative process of spatial composition developed while listening and gathering field recordings of site-specific ambient sounds. In the pilot phase of the project, large-scale fieldwork was conducted in the area of Tumbani to study, locate, and collect a huge supply of media content in the form of video recordings, still photography, and sound recordings. In this pilot phase, the activity was entirely concentrated on field research and the collection of audio-visual materials (HD, DV; 35 mm, middle-format analogue, and digital photographs; digital audio recordings in BWF) to create a comprehensive media archive based on documentation of the transformative site, transitory cultural practices related to the concerned area and its people. The various field recordings consisted of audiographic, videographic, and photographic interaction with the place, largely on the basis of the following areas of observation: (1) Landscapes (collection of static imagery in long takes and relentlessly taken tracking shots of industrial landscapes; spatial representation of the moving landscapes in sound and photography; the metaphor of a truck explored within landscape composition). (2) Life and livelihood (snapshots of the stasis within a traditional household and a transient livelihood affected by industrial and related socio-economic development; interaction with indigenous people, both in a family setting and individually culminating in a series of audiovisual portraits; journalistic studies and reportage on industrial workers; village houses, and their exterior as well as interior designs). (3) Nature (intimate objects and elements of the natural world: extremely close observation of the earth, woods, forests, water, and minute creatures in sound, photos, and video). (4) Land development (the marketplace with its vibrant gathering of people and thriving transactions; the perpetual traffic of trucks and life by the roadside; the newly developing sites of rail lines; new buildings and construction such as shops and restaurants within the developing parts of the region). (5) Collective memory (abandoned buildings and ruins; dilapidated ambience of the residency; aural imagery with personal narratives and recollections of the past). These extensive audiovisual materials were used in the creation and realisation of the composition and a multi-channel sound and video installation, which was the projects outcome. The production process of these two works involved (post-)digital mediation, and modulation of sound and moving image artefacts.The compositional strategy consisted of artistic interventions: taking intricate location-based multitrack digital field recordings and transforming these recognisable environmental sounds through studio processing. These artistic mediations diffused the recordings spatially into a blurry area between musical abstraction and recognisable sonic evidence of the site. The question is, how much spatial information, in terms of the recorded ambient sounds, was retained and how much artistic abstraction was deployed during production practice? This artistic process needs to be examined to better understand the nature of representation in field-recording-based sound artworks that intend to diegetically narrate sites endangered by anthropogenic interferences.


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