There’s an interesting post by Marc Weidenbaum over at Disquiet, discussing the role of field recording in a modern context and commenting on some recent work by Richard Devine, documenting the sounds of modern electronics:
Recordings of various electrical devices (printers, scanners, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation, Mac-book hard drives, 5 different wireless modems, fax machines, iPhone, iPad, and computers.
Recorded with two telephone recording microphones (induction coil) into a Sound Devices 744T recorder 24-bit 96khz.
Weidenbaum compares Devine’s recordings to the work of Alan Lomax, who captured folk music in the early 20th century:
To compare the sound of a modem to the song of an impoverished blues musician is not to elevate the former or denigrate the latter. It is simply to note that in the latter case, the documentarian was of use because for a variety of reasons the commercial recording industry had found no use for the blues musician. His song went underheard. And the phonographer is dedicated to the underheard, to the sounds that exist around us but are taken for granted.
Comparing Devine’s recordings to Lomax’s is a bit of a stretch. But Devine’s recordings are a reminder that interesting sounds are all around us with inherent meaning – and that many of these sounds are disappearing as technology is discarded.