The bridge. JAMES WYNESS
(Green Field Recordings 2011)
One of the most exciting aspects of a field recording session is the feeling of becoming an explorer who suddenly falls within a completely new perceptive dimension.
It is sufficient to wear a pair of headphones and press the record button to be shifted into a new reality: even the most familiar environment seems to offer us new listening perspectives. It is like discovering every time an augmented reality with a much more complex level of interactions.
Often field recordings bring up schemes or patterns, but other times field recordings make us deeply aware of the high level of randomness that rules the world we live in.
“The Bridge” by James Wyness is a good example of the mixture of the two aspects above mentioned: patterns and randomness.
This audio work is an investigation of sonic phenomena in the Scottish Borders and North Northumberland and it focus its attention around the footbridge over the River Teviot.
The bridge, which is the main audio source of the recordings, has been “excited” in various way and the different sonic responses have been recorded using several techniques and varieties of microphones.
The final result is an engaging listening that blends the documentary purposes of the work with an approach that often can be found in sound installations.
In fact the bridge becomes here a true audio installation and it represents an open door to a new sonic environment.
Low rumbles, selected high frequencies and screeching noises have been layered and overlapped in order to form a moving mass of seething drones that evolves in the background while a dense collection of metallic noises builds up a detailed picture of the “new” bridge.
Field recordings such these make clear that the sound is just the result of a long process of interactions that eventually manifests itself in the form of vibrations.
The mechanical structure of the bridge is the instrument that has been played by the author and by the natural environment.
As every other traditional musical instrument the bridge provides different level of expressiveness and, as demonstrated by James Wyness, the work of the field recordist is not merely to record sounds, but instead it also consists in learning how to “play” these particular instruments.