||I spend a lot of time listening to places and recording them.
A place, whether experienced or remembered, is defined by its ambience, or sense of place.
This can be a physical or an emotional response to the space itself, the objects and activities contained within it, or to its acoustic manifestation; its soundscape.
Listening to a place gives us spatial and temporal information not necessarily determined by our point-of-view.
Architectural or natural acoustics and ambient sound contribute to the soundscape as much as the sonic details and intentional sounds.
Listening to a recording of a place thickens the plot. It stimulates immersion in the soundscape by removing visual cues, but creates distance through its transposition of space and time.
One of the implicit meanings created by listening to a recording is that of not having been there.
Somebody was there, however, and this primary listener made selections, choices and alterations to the recording for cultural, ideological, or aesthetic reasons.
A recording of environmental sound is an inscription tracing the engagement of this primary listener with the soundscape at that time, in that place. We, the secondary listeners, form a second, mental place, here and now, from the acoustic traces written onto tape.
Making a spatial soundwork is, for me, creating a place.
In the series of soundworks called site, I use acoustic details from location recordings; fragments of sound that refer to objects, movement and materiality. For instance, we hear the actions of feet stepping on twigs, wind in leaves, or falling stones.
These small sounds are isolated, taken out of their original context and arranged in a new, conceptual space.
A gesture, which could be like a swirling gust of wind or the movement of a hand that draws, moves through this structure, sounding the invisible objects within it.
By placing a number of loudspeakers in the exhibition space, this conceptual place can manifest itself within real space and real time.
The structure is gradually revealed by a series of gestures, just as a drawing is gradually built up of lines. Here though, these lines are drawn in time, in memory.
In listening to these works we construct our own mental place/site by listening to the recorded materials and the gestures in relation to the real architecture and acoustics.
There can be great differences between the exhibition space and the recording location. The work though, exists somewhere else, in the gap between here and there, and between then and now.
(text from the catalogue cd from the exhibition Just About Now at TENT, Rotterdam July 2000)