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  • Richard Gott

Sound in art - a binaural foray

Alongside the location sound recording I do for broadcast and corporate use, I've been developing my interest in the use of sound in artists' works, and also in the field of 'sound art' as I begin to explore and develop my own sound arts practice. I've recorded sound for use in works by Ryan Gander and Mark Storer and have recorded sound for numerous documentation films that have been created and produced by Chris Keenan, commissioned by artists and galleries alike.


I'm currently working on an Arts Council England funded work by artist, James Paddock. His conceptual piece 'PYLON' will be an immersive multimedia installation that explores the experience of psychosis. I'm collaborating with the artist on the film element of the work; recording location sound and producing the final sound design that will help achieve his vision for the work. In 'PYLON', we witness a young woman experiencing a psychotic episode, a typical element of which is auditory hallucinations.


Researching the subject of auditory hallucinations has been fascinating for me; understanding how they manifest, what type of sounds might be heard, how they are experienced and where the sounds appear to be located. After discussions with James, we're keen to make use of binaural recording technique for all the sections where we have the POV (point of view) of the main character, so that people who experience the artwork and who are unfamiliar with what it is to live with a psychotic condition, can begin to touch at the edges of it and hopefully dispel some myths along the way.


Binaural recording is a recording technique whereby the placement of the microphones take into account ear spacing, head density and head shadow, essentially incorporating the effects of our anatomy in the recording phase of the process. Often this is achieved by using a 'dummy head' or sometimes by placing tiny microphones in each ear of a living person! When played back over headphones, the results can feel quite immersive, particularly with sounds that occur in close proximity and have movement in them.


Another interesting challenge for me and a diversion from my ordinary 'staple', is the need to create voices for inanimate objects and non-human animals. Having never done this before, I'm on a creative and technical journey myself; all good professional development and hopefully resulting in an understanding of techniques that I can feed into my own and others' future projects.


PYLON will be exhibited at A-side B-side Gallery in London from 4 – 10 September 2019


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