Extended phonography: expanding field recording through a multi-sensorial practice
Matilde Meireles, 2017
Practice-based PhD Thesis in Sonic Arts
Sonic Arts Research Centre
Queen’s University Belfast
My research, both artistic and scholarly, aims to expand the practice of field recording. It uses eight case studies to explore how a multidisciplinary approach to the act of recording might impact the articulation of place through sound. The research proposes a possible answer to the fragmentation of senses so common in field recording through the use of a multi-sensorial practice, extended phonography.
Extended phonography draws from my practice as a field recordist, graphic designer, and site-specific visual artist. It emerges from my need find a vocabulary that mirrors new multi-sensorial aesthetics arising in sound art. Through a critical use of methodologies inherent to sound arts practices, I highlight elements of the recording experience that would not be perceived by the audience through the use of the sound recordings alone. Each practice complements the other by offering the audience, and myself, different means of accessing the recorded context and event. This non-hierarchical and multidisciplinary exchange proposes experiences that transcend the notion of recording as merely a tool for representation and veracity, thereby introducing documentation as composition. The final outcomes are still anchored in sound but, through extended phonography, other nuances of the recorded event are explored, providing a more plural knowledge and experience of place. These details and reflexive processes give rise to designed situations, and a new event is created.
The thesis comprises a written commentary which accompanies a portfolio of eight works produced between 2012 and 2016: Phragmites australis, Constructing a Soundscape, Sounds of the City, X Marks the Spot, Almost Sound Diary, Som da Maré: um project participativo de arte sonora, and Moving Still.
The research also explores my interest in — and reservations about — collaboration and participation as catalysts for a shared understanding of place. The strategies I developed in the research — individually and collaboratively — have given me new insights into the acts of recording, composing, and presenting. In extended phonography the acts of recording and the act of presenting in different spaces are simultaneously acts of composing. They foreground, for both the recordist and the audience, new understandings of sound, music-making and place.