Why we will not take part in the Phonurgia Nova – Field Recording award

img_1305-1Open letter to Phonurgia Nova and the Fondation François Sommer, July 2016.

This year the Phonurgia Nova competition is added a new category with the Field Recording award.

At first, we welcomed the news as a token of recognition for our activities: as their audience are slowly growing, they now would have their own award. But then we were surprised, perplexed and eventually embarrassed to learn that Fondation François Sommer, through its Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, was financing the award. For us field recordists, audio-naturalists, environmental sound artists, confrontation and coexistence with the hunting world, its enthusiasts and supporters, is already a problem, we are refusing unequivocally to associate our work with its sponsors and lobbyists.

This is not the place for us to explain the ethical or practical reasons that keep us away from the hunting world and we will not comment or question the quality and relevance of the projects of Phonurgia Nova or the programme of the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. However, we want to make our position clear about a partnership that, in its title, calls out to a community we feel we belong to: a Field Recording prize awarded by a hunting lobby, this feels incompatible, and even more, we feel it is a fool’s bargain. Signatories of this text, we do not want to have our artistic activities mixed up with those of the hunting lobby, we do not want to receive (or become) a trophy of Fondation François Sommer and we will not go to work in its domain in the Ardennes.

Holding this position has been the result of asking ourselves many questions, some of which we want to share with you:

What should there be in common between phonography practices (from the most naturalists to the more urban) and those of hunting? If our ways of being discreet might seem similar, are not our activities radically different in the end? Can we really consider sound collection and animal “control” as equivalent?

If hunters and sound recordists also occasionally share the same ground, are our understandings of the territory really the same? And are they compatible? While hunting reserves its “domains” or seasonally privatize the use of natural space, we would always prefer to see them as common good and a public space to share. Is not that principle of sharing at the core of our practices? And conversely, is not exclusivity of access inherent to hunting?

What is driving Fondation François Sommer towards our activities up to wanting to award them? What did motivate Phonurgia Nova to establish such a connection? Our position might be regarded as restricted to suspicion while the aforementioned Fondation will claim for dialogue and open-mindedness, but beyond the means for a one-time project, what broader and more durable interest would there be for us to back what looks quite like a one side only communication campaign?

Each one of us acknowledges the undeniable quality of Phonurgia Nova, and we cannot express anything but gratitude when the idea emerges of awarding our practices with one of the first prize specifically intended for field recording, phonography and environmental composition. But the novelty only makes our vigilance stronger, and we have to regret the choice behind this partnership, which does not represent our values or our ways.

As we refuse to take part in the competition created by Phonurgia Nova with the Fondation François Sommer and its Museum to award Field Recording, we mostly want to make potential applicants to think about it, as well as the professionals who are concerned with the economics of their field of work and any of the people who have worked, one way or another, at establishing the frame of this competition.

Our ears are open,

Rodolphe Alexis, sound artist (France)
Jérôme Bailly, journalist-director (France)
Jérome Bossard, composer, public space sound artist (France)
Damien Boutonnet, public space sound artist (France)
Jean-Pierre Briat, sound engineer (France)
Gonzalo Campo, public space sound artist (France)
Joaquim Cauqueraumont, sound artist (Belgium)
Jean-Philippe Chalté, chief sound operator (France)
Enrico Coniglio, fieldrecordist (Italy)
Yannick Dauby, sound artist (Taiwan)
Pauline Desgranchamp, junior design researcher, sound scenographer (France)
Fernand Deroussen, composer audio-naturalist (France)
Pascal Dhuicq, audio-naturalist (France)
Atillio Doreste, sound artist, full professor ULL (Spain)
Marine Drouan, musician, sound artist (Germany)
Roland Etzin, curator, sound artist (Germany)
Gina Farr, audio-naturalist, sound artist et documentary producer (USA)
Patrick Franke, ornithologist, sound recordist (Germany)
Helen Frosi, director – SoundFjord (England)
Flavien Gillié, sound artist (Belgique)
Delphine Gleize, sound creator (France)
John Grzinich, field recordist, (Estonia)
Jonáš Gruska, sound artist; field recordist (Slovakia)
Jeremy Hegge, sound artist (Australia)
Miguel Isaza, sound artist (Colombia)
Slavek Kwi, freelance sound artist (Ireland)
Goh Lee Kwang, sound artist (Malaysia)
Stéphane Marin, sound director, soundscape artist (France)
Quentin Mercier, sound artist, writer (France)
pali meursault, sound artist (France)
Pedro Montesinos, field recordist (Spain)
Marc Namblard, audio-naturalist and sound artist (France)
Olivier Namblard, nature sound enthusiast, member of ASPAS (France)
Frederic Nogray, composer (France)
Linda O Keeffe, lecturer, artist (Irish in UK)
Robin Parmar, sound artist , composer, writer (Ireland)
Jean Poinsignon, composer, sound artist (France)
Tim Preeble, field recordist, film sound designer, composer (New Zeland)
Olivar Premier, improvised music composer (France)
La Cosa Preziosa, sound artist (Italy)
Vincent Rassart, sound artist (France)
Emeric Renard, sound creator (France)
Jose Ricardo, sound artist (Colombia)
Lasse-Marc Riek, sound artist, field recordist (Germany)
Sonatura, audio-naturalist association (France)
Stéphane Rives, musician; sound engineer (France)
Leslie Rollins, sound artist (États-Unis)
Jan Ryhalsky, fieldrecordist (Russia)
Robert Schwarz, sound artist, architect (Austria)
Isabelle Stragliati, sound artist (France)
Dan Tapper, sound artist, new medias (UK, Canada)
Thomas Tilly, sound artist (France)
Michael Trommer, sound artist (Canada)
François Vaillant, sound artist (France)
Jean-Philippe Velu, architect, sound artist (France)
Jean Voguet, acusmatic composer, geophonist (France)
Chris Watson, musician and wildlife sound recordist (UK)
Simon Whetham, sound artist (UK)
Jez Riley French, sound artist (UK)