Sunday, September 28, 2008

Reading Response #1

“Theory of the Dérive” by Guy Debord provides the reader with insight into the various elements necessary to complete a successful dérive, or drift, in an urban landscape. It explains how one must approach their surroundings in different manners to find a deeper understanding of the world they live in. This theory has been very helpful in the formation my own drift strategies. The ideas in this article are very important to grasp if one wants to get the most out of their drift. I consider it to be the most helpful reading I have come across on the many aspects of the dérive; it explains them, their importance, and provides easy to understand examples.

Debord’s theory has several important points. It is made clear from the beginning that one must separate them self from their typical thoughts and activities, and commit them self completely to observing what is around them. Chance is not of much importance; the surrounding landscape has a personality of its own, waiting to be interacted with. The choice of a spatial field, or an area to drift, is important, but it can as unstructured or specific as one chooses. If there are no set limits, it can be difficult to find a place to begin or end. A dérive can be conducted by one person or by a group of people, directly affecting the multitude of observations made and the ability for comparison with others. Length of a dérive is also variable, lasting anywhere from a moment to months. Different drift forms can yield different experiences; from getting more familiar with something you see every day, to discovering a place for the first time. Finding the correct amount of structure and disorder is important. The dérive is a flexible tool of exploration, and can be very effective when used properly.

Upon reading “Theory of the Dérive,” I gained an understanding of the fundamentals of the dérive and the potential conflicts I might face along the way. Before I learned about this method, I found it difficult to come across inspiration in the places around me. I became overwhelmed by how much was waiting to be encountered, and the search seemed hopeless. I figured that giving myself limits would cause nothing but more problems, but now I know that fostering creativity is nearly impossible without them. Developing drift strategies could be very helpful in finding interesting material to photograph. It allows me the perfect balance of order and chaos that I need to feel productive. I now have a system that I can use to aid in discovering myself and the world that I live in.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

First sound walk!

Were you able to find places and spaces where you could really listen?

  • Yes, but they were not easy to find. The two places this was easiest to do were in the trees southeast of Sandburg, and the trees east of the Klotsche Center.
Was it possible to move without making a sound?
  • No, but it was possible for me to walk and make very little sound.
What happened when you plugged your ears, and then unplugged them?
  • The sounds became very muffled and difficult to identify when I plugged my ears. It seemed as though I could pick up lower frequencies better than higher ones, as I could hear muffled vehicle engines in the distance and not the cicadas in nearby trees. I needed to look around me to get a sense of what was going on.
  • When I unplugged my ears, I could hear cicadas, people talking, wind, and many other things. I could tell the differences between noises much easier.
In your sound log exercise, what types of sounds were you able to hear? List them.
  • Water splashing in fountain
  • People talking on cell phones
  • Feet shuffling and dragging on cement
  • Rocks being kicked on the ground
  • Skateboard dragged on cement
  • Skateboard flipping on cement, wheels bouncing
  • People talking, echos
  • Laughter
  • Cars accelerating, slowing down, and braking
  • Cars driving over uneven pavement
  • Exhaust from buildings, different volumes and tones
  • Doors opening and closing
  • Smoothie mixer
  • Machines beeping at Taco Bell
  • Change being counted into a till
  • People speaking Japanese
  • Keys jingling
  • Upbeat, bouncy jazz piano
  • Posters with cardboard backing flapping as people shuffle through them
  • Receipts printing rapidly, non-stop
  • Plastic utensils tapping on plastic dishware
  • Empty plastic bottle dropped on hard floor, bouncing
  • Laptop keyboard tapping
  • Buses accelerating, braking loud and squeaky
  • Car making a loud buzzing sound similar to a bee
  • Motorcycle engine
  • Bikes making clicking sounds
  • Moped/scooter engine
  • Unidentified long squeak
  • Unidentified buzzing
  • Three Razor scooters on sidewalk, making a lot of clacking on cement cracks
  • Cicadas
  • Skateboards going downhill, accelerating
  • Cricket chirping
  • Strong gusts of wind
  • A girl shouting "Click it!" (maybe cricket?)
  • Leaves in trees rustling from wind
  • Distant bus braking
  • Flip flops dragging on cement
  • Leaves rustling on ground, walked on
  • Breaking twigs
  • Wood chips crunching
  • Distant car alarm
  • Three loud sharp squeaks, like a whistle
  • Distant traffic noise
  • Plane passing overhead
  • Women talking and walking with shoes that clack on cement
  • Interesting complimentary building noises from right and left
  • Car engine starting
  • Footsteps on pavement
  • Pen dropped on cement
  • Leaves crunching underfoot
  • Air conditioner whistling
  • Machine/exhaust noise from Heating Plant
  • Grass swishing as I walk
  • Bird chirping; quick, sharp, loud, constant tone, a little annoying

Were you able to differentiate between sounds that had a recognizable source and those sounds you could not place?

  • Yes. Most sounds were considerably easy to identify, but there were a few that I couldn't figure out as I looked around for a source.

Human sounds? Mechanical sounds? Natural sounds?

  • Human and natural sounds were almost always identifiable, but there were some mechanical noises I was unsure of.

Were you able to detect subtleties in the ever present drone?

  • Yes. Between two buildings, I could hear two different tones of exhaust; it gave an interesting stereo effect. The drone of traffic was steady, but sounded different depending on how far you were from the road, and how much traffic was passing by. When we entered and exited the Union, the drone changed completely.

Extremely close sounds? Sounds coming from very far away?

  • Sounds coming from up close were louder and more distinct. The further you are from the source of a sound, the harder it is to hear it clearly. Sounds from far away were more quiet and muffled.
What kinds of wind effects were you able to detect (for example, the leaves of trees don't make sounds until they are activated by the wind)?
  • I heard wind blowing leaves in trees, and the leaves made different sounds depending on their height from the ground. I also heard wind blowing past my ears.
Were you able to intervene in the urban landscape and create your own sounds by knocking on a resonant piece of metal, activating wind chimes, etc.?
  • I did not consciously make such sound in my surroundings.

Do you feel you have a new understanding or appreciation of the sounds of our contemporary landscape/cityscape?

  • Yes, it was a really interesting experience. I had never walked around for that long only thinking about the sounds around me. It gave me a completely different perspective.
How do you think your sound walk experience will affect your practice as a media artist, if at all?
  • I might start to analyze my surroundings more than I already did, only in a slightly different way. I've always looked first and listened second, but that might change. I feel compelled to incorporate the sounds around me with my imagery. I might start recording sound simultaneously when I go out and photograph things.