Image: from the film Days of Heaven, 1978. Terrence Malick.
Reducing the speed of digital field recordings is one of life’s simple pleasures. By decreasing the speed of everyday sounds we immerse ourselves in altered landscapes. This process triggers the imagination into flights of fancy – birds and insects become prehistoric creatures, rain drops resemble explosions, and the human voice transforms into monsters hiding in shadows. It is an enjoyable way to destabilise your connection with reality.
The sound files in this post explore the process of transforming sounds beyond recognition. The original recording was taken using contact microphones taped onto the back of a digital television.
Original Speed: With the television volume set on mute the contact mics pick-up static and a pulse that is ordinarily unheard:
At 0.25: By reducing the speed of the original recording to .25 new sounds begin to appear. The harsh tone of the first recording is replaced by this digital stridulation:
At 0.05: After reducing the original file to .05 the recording now resembles a sound effect from early science-fiction shows. From the original recording to sounds of stridulation to science-fiction. The transformation seems appropriate considering the content of the original sounding object.
Field recording is often identified with attempts to faithfully capture the sounds of natural habitats. However of equal worth is the manipulation of familiar sounds into the unfamiliar and its disorienting effect upon the listener. It is here that we find the combination of listening, imagination and the construction of new worlds.