Practitioners in the art of field recording are currently experiencing a growing sense of self- awareness. It is similar to the crisis of conscience that rumbled through anthropology in the 1970s and 80s, which overhauled the practice of ethnographic fieldwork in the process. Recent sonic arts discourse has engaged with the artistic practice of field recording, calling to better acknowledge the presence of the recordist as an active agent in the field (Voeglin 2014, Lane and Carlyle 2013, Demers 2009).

This recognition carries with it a heightened sense of awareness and responsibility. As in ethnography, recordists are now encouraged to be increasingly reflexive, and to address moral and ethical issues associated with recording and representation. The choices over what sounds one might record, where, when, how and crucially, why, all become much more significant factors.

For composers, these choices are artistically motivated editorial decisions. The act of recording in the field becomes part of the act of composing. Perhaps those doing it already implicitly understood this. However, are there rigorous attempts to understand the interrelationship between recordist and subject? Should there be?

This paper will examine both the act of field recording and the practice of composing with `appropriated' sound together. In doing so, the aim is to identify questions and considerations for further discussion, focussing on:

  1. the compositional decision-making implicit in the act of field recording
  2. the socio-cultural and political implications of composing with field recordings
  3. the perceived authorship and ownership over the recordings themselves, and any resulting composition
  4. the responsibility of representation of the self and other(s) in composition

adrian 2015-06-03