Field recording exploded as a practice in experimental music during the 2000s. It has been used in the most varied ways, transcending its basic nature of "sampling" the environment, and in some inspired cases evolving a more conscious sense of recording something specific, then trying to preserve the sense of that place in subsequent uses. This video is one of those cases, and it's the revised version of a performance held at the MADEIRADIG festival in Madeira.
Whetham took advantage of Olim being native of Madeira, and as with the best field recordings (using microphones and hydrophones), they explored a few landmarks finding small, random gems along the way. A very nice documentary about this is included in the DVD, giving the viewer a "behind the scenes" view of the recordings. It also introduces a few local perspectives and give viewers the chance to appreciate the locations of the sounds recognizable in the performance.
The recordings were composed in multichannel way (and there's also a luxurious 5.1 version). On the visual side, Olim used a microscope connected to a digital camera, magnifying exclusively typically local objects and substances. The video signal was also set to react live to specific audio frequencies coming from the recordings. The two scales (the visual "micro" and the sound "macro") are both interacting with "invisible" Madeira; its DNA, the magnified molecules of its own territory and its sound-propagating air molecules.
This is a collaboration between sound artists Simon Whetman in sound, of Bristol, UK and Hugo Olim, a native of the island of Madeira, Portugal, in images, who toured different parts of the island during November and December 2010 gathering sounds and images. This work was premiered in MADEIRADIG festival in December 2010.
This DVD presents a revised version of the performance in 16:9 format video with 5.1 surround sound and stereo soundtracks. Also included a documentary video of the field work on the island as an extra. The latter is very interesting since it shows how Whetham works; the locations selected and the positions that placed his microphones.
Whetham fitted with microphones and hydrophones created a multi-channel audio composition from field recordings, while Olim with his digital camera, to which he incorporated a microscope, allowed him to enlarge the size of substances and objects. Through different special effects this signal reacted at certain frequencies in the audio composition.
In some parts of this work Whetham adds to his recordings some ambience layers that subtly draw melancholic melodies. The visual work shows abstract and blurry images that run in parallel.
This is an interesting sound document that shows the creative process where sound and images come together to create an atmospheric ambience. Guillermo Escudero