Jana Winderen is an artist, widely known for her recordings that reveal sounds from hidden sources — oceans, ice crevasses, glaciers — using a variety of technology, from high quality hydrophones to ultrasound detectors. Her work is published on Touch Music (same as Chris Watson) and her biography boasts of a long and impressive list of art installations.
She was kind enough to spare some time from her schedule and share some of her thoughts in this interview.
DS: Let’s start with your background. What got you started with field recording?
JW: I have always been occupied with the oceans and their inhabitants, also of how we treat the planet’s environments, I used to study Science to become a marine biologist, before I studied art in Falmouth and London. In the early nineties, I made a conscious decision to not make any more objects, solid objects which occupy space and tend to turn into garbage. I decided to start using material that did not occupy physical space, but still is a very physical material, as sound is. After some years in the studio, I simply fell asleep, and I decided to go out, back out, into the ocean, into the forests and the mountains to find and record sounds from unknown sources of sound, from both inaccessible areas and from frequencies not audible for us (without changing the way we listen to them, like speeding up or down for example). I am interested in the areas not known, or less investigated, less researched, where questions are still possible to ask, and which should be asked.
DS: You mention ‘blind field recordings’ a lot. What does it actually mean? How does it affect your recordings?
JW: I am concerned with finding unknown sources of sound, sound we do not know is there, or cannot reach with our senses as mentioned above. It is a very concentrated listening process, something which is unknown, unseen, not obvious what it is, like a search through sound, and not through looking at and then listening to. Close your eyes while recording, then follow the sound, and investigate the audible and not the first seen or heard.
It is a different way of recording out in the wild. You can set up your microphone, your recorder to record, leave the place and then come back a couple of hours later, go home with your recordings and get surprised and excited about what you have got. I am working in a different way though a lonely process of intense concentration, monitoring constantly what is there, then move according to what I hear, to get closer, to search, and almost without exception I am surprised and excited about a new creature, or a phenomenon I did not expect, this makes it an endless source of wonder and questioning, and an urge to learn more, through listening, though also through concentrated observations, sometimes also visual close up observations.
A quick roundup of the independent sfx libraries to have hit our inbox this month.
Blastwave FX have launched a competition to coincide with the release of their latest library collection, Heroes & Villains. You will need to call upon your most potent and deadly super power for a chance to win: entrants have to post a video of themselves reading a list of sound effects included in the library… in less than 60 seconds.
Metamorph is the brand new sample library from San Francisco instrument software makers Twisted Tools. With over 2GB of audio at 24bit/96Khz, Metamorph’s mash-up of electroacoustic and designed sounds was developed by Italian sound designers BJM Mario Bajardi and Paolo Bigazzi (aka Komplex).
The story of the ‘bedroom producer’ recording music at home has been told often and I myself have happily been that character for many years. But recently, a love of field recording (and my day job as a sound designer) tempted me towards doing something a bit different. What would it be like to leave the studio and record an entire album outdoors? What happens when you attempt to perform and record music in such uncontrollable environments? And would it be possible to weave together the unpredictable sounds of these environments with more traditional performances to create a cohesive whole? I found these questions fascinating. I have also always been drawn to creative work that has taken a considerable amount of effort and recording an album outdoors whilst living in Scotland with its devious climate seemed to fit the bill…
“Cicadas” is an installation with a difference. Bringing together sound design, technology and natural science, Berlin-based sound artist Bob Meanza has created sonic robots which emulate some of…
Amazing behind the scenes footage of Chas Smith who created custom instruments which Hans Zimmer utilized as sound sources on the Man Of Steel soundtrack.
Possibly a first of its kind*, Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland, UK, is offering an online Masters degree course in Sound Design. The MSc is offered as an…
The start of September. The start of a new topic! We’re going out on a limb this month and doing something really different. “No one is an island.”…