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A Grammar For Listening – Part 3

Luke Fowler

UK, 2009
13 minutes, Colour, Separate .wav file, 1:1.33
Original format: 16mm film
Available formats: 16mm

‘Over the centuries, Western culture has relentlessly attempted to classify noise, music and everyday sounds… Ordinary noises and the mundane sounds that are not perceived as either annoying or musical are of no interest.’

How to create a meaningful dialogue between looking and listening? Luke Fowler’s film cycle A Grammar for Listening (parts 1-3) attempts to address this question through the possibilities afforded by 16mm film and digital sound recording devices. In part 3, Fowler furthers his on-going dialogue with the sound artist Toshiya Tsunoda (Yokohama, Japan).

Toshiya Tsunoda develops an on-going philosophical line of enquiry regarding the art of field recording, as a conceptual act, and that of the relationship between the “field”, the recordist and the audience. During these investigations, he came to think about the meaning of choosing an object to focus on; drawing the conclusion that “perhaps it is similar to a hunter who becomes more interested in shooting the bow than the prey itself”. His recent method of recording begins by fixing a stethoscope with built-in microphones to his and another’s temples: “the two of us sat side by side and made a recording whilst focusing on the landscape in front of us. In this way two people create one stereo sound image. It is about capturing one image with two inputs, which is normally what our eyes and ears do. From the spatial information that is sent to our two ears from our brains, we cannot distinguish the sound which only one of us hears.” He concludes: “Recorded material is like a map. It is not a perfect reproduction of the information in the space.”