Auditory Scenes : Auditory Scenes: The Chronicle of Personal Life

sound installation, 2009 – 2011

I born in 80s, the so called ‘Post-80s’. In Hong Kong, when people talk about ‘Post-80s’, they always mention about the characteristic of this group of people. I am not interested in the discourses of ‘Post-80s’. In fact, thinking about ‘Post-80s’ is actually reflecting the transition from analogue to digital in our generation.

I still remember when I knew about DV and DAT format in recording tool. I just know it is difficult and inconvenient for recording sound and moving image in the past. Even though I know about MD is also an convenient tool, when I was using DAT, I enjoyed the convenience from DAT in recording process. With the recording technology advancement, we no longer use DAT in our recording process. The tool is getting smaller; it sounds better and much more easier in transferring the files. When I bought Zoom H4 (later shifted to Sony D50), I didn’t feel DAT was vanishing and I didn’t reflect about the changes of the recording medium and tools until I came across with iPhone 3G.

I had been using those phone with basic function for pretty long time. iPhone is not only offering a new user experiences, but also, from sound artist’s perspective, I think it is also a recording tool. iPhone has a default application called ‘Voice Memo‘ and this application should be the one of the underestimated and less-used applications in my friend’s circle. They don’t use this application much but I use this as a tool for recording of my daily life.

I never think about making a field recordings album when I had iPhone in my hands. I just simply wanted to record the daily fragments of my daily life such as soundscape, private conversations and sudden incidents. I also didn’t have systematic approach in practicing about this. It just simply relied on my own preference depending the time I want to record it or not. After that, I discovered the recordings are totally different from what I used with proper recordings machines. These recordings are the archive of my personal life or even these are history of certain period of my life.

Even though recording tools are getting smaller and smaller, if you want to record something that needs to be hidden, you will have to know about the skills in hiding it. Sound artists and curator, Dajuin Yao once wrote about this for this kind of situation in a pamphlet. In fact, iPhone has its invisibility in this kind of situation, it can conceal the act of recording: run the Voice Memo and lock the phone until the screen goes dark and hence hold your phone is fine. You can sometimes pretend you are talking on the phone and record the conversation of the others. While the recording device is getting more convenient, the act of recording can be more private and affects the outcome on what we heard.