UC Berkeley (Nick)



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    Nick Sowers
    Feb 18, '09 9:21 PM EST

    Arrived in Korea last night from Honolulu, with a stop at Narita. All the time in transit afforded me a few lessons in Hangeul script, which I am now able to read but at a very slow pace. I also had a chance to work on my sound, of which I've recorded almost 18 hours but sadly have only had time to process and produce about 20 minutes worth. If you think sorting photos is a pain in the ass...

    The title of my podcast is Soundscrapers: a sonic slice through the global military atmosphere. So why record sound in the first place? What does it matter for architecture and the fellowship I am on?

    The act of collecting sound mediates my experience to a far lesser degree than photography, and the spatial and temporal depth is vastly superior. Sound is everywhere, it cannot be escaped. We have also learned to focus our ears and edit sound out. When I record, everything is taken in. The microphones are swollen sponges. The task, then, is to re-focus the ambient sound in deliberate manipulations. Editing is an act of design.

    For the sound of Panama, I sought out a continuous space, smoothing over breaks in time. This corresponded with my experience, beginning with a red-eye flight out of LA, connecting in Houston and onward to Panama. Night becomes day becomes night. The jungle becomes the city becomes the jungle. Military space becomes touristic space becomes military space.

    Plus, I talk to a really crazy guy who lives on a sailboat and is proud to have not had to kill anybody "in this incarnation".

    Listen to 1: Panama:

    My project for Hawaii, where I just spent 12 days, is in process. Another thing about recording sound is that it takes A LOT of time to edit, as you can't just "glance" at a piece of sound or flick through it. You have to wade through it. But I did produce a short piece about a trip I took inside an abandoned Navy ammo bunker.

    Listen to 2: Waikele Ammo Bunker:

    And last night on the plane I finished a piece from my trip seven weeks ago to the US/Mexico border. If you've ever wondered what the border sounds like, check out the last segment of this recording.

    Listen to 3: Tijuana:

    You can subscribe to the podcast here, though the Itunes link is currently not working.

    And what's a post without something graphic? This is my updated itinerary:

    2009 Branner Itinerary

    Now off to find some food at Family Mart (a Korean 7-11).


    • PodZilla

      I hope while you're in Korea you're going to take time to visit The Ryugyong Hotel... unless you're on the wrong side of the DMZ.

      Feb 18, 09 11:45 pm  · 

      Podzilla, it would be pretty interesting to see it--alas, I think you need a couple months to get the N. Korea visa.

      Hyundai also owns a mountain or something across the border and you can--for a hefty price--get to be in "North Korea". But you can't leave the mountain resort.

      A last option to get into North Korea is to take a couple steps across the DMZ. Apparently you can do this on one of the various tours that goes up there.

      Feb 19, 09 5:09 am  · 

      I like the podcast(s)..

      Are you going to work those sounds somehow into your thesis somehow?

      I love the echoes on the Hawaii cast..

      Your imaginings at the end had a bit of a Bldblog feel to them..

      Feb 19, 09 8:38 am  · 

      I like the podcast(s)..

      Are you going to work those sounds somehow into your thesis somehow?

      I love the echoes on the Hawaii cast..

      Your imaginings towards the end had a bit of a Bldblog feel to them..

      Feb 19, 09 8:38 am  · 

      thanks nam! I want sound to be a player in the thesis circus... I just have to tame it.

      itunes link is working now

      Feb 19, 09 10:18 am  · 

      Man what is with me not being able to post to yoru blog without having typos.
      This is getting annoying..

      Feb 19, 09 11:21 am  · 

      Ahh and again!

      Feb 19, 09 11:21 am  · 

      Sound recording is less mediating of the exercise you so rightly sate. Sharp observation! Ah, but the editing is where the mediation occurs.

      When I look at a travel photo, the scene comes into clear focus, and the moments before and after and recalled in less detail, if at all.

      I wonder in years from now when you listen to the edited tapes, will the memories flood in from where you were before or after the sounds that made the cut.

      For those of us not on your journey, the sounds "paint a portrait" of interest and imagined context. Most engaging.

      I wish there were words in the auditory lexicon to say "Paint a portrait".

      Maybe you will create them with your work.

      Miss you


      Feb 28, 09 6:37 pm  · 

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