Becoming Desert draws on the experience of sitting or lying down silent in the desert for several hours at a time to make sound recordings. The field recordings I made in four deserts of the American Southwest are the basis of this work. When listening to the desert sounds through headphones at the time of recording, one is aware of a kind of hyper-real sonic environment. The amplified soundfield in the headphones is surreal in its presence and accuracy and multiplies my direct experience of listening many times. The relationship between the amplified headphone mix and the actual unmediated experienced sound world is constantly in mind as a pointer to the fact that the recording is an artificial artifact being generated at the time of listening and that there is a strange and uncanny marriage between the act of recording and the unmediated act of listening. This dichotomy is further complicated by the removal of the body from the recording – no movement and no breathing – in order for the recording to foreground the natural environment rather than the recordist’s presence within in it. The question arises how or whether the recordist should be absent or present in the recording and how the recorded artifact relates to the natural soundscape. Becoming Desert alludes to this conflict and invites the listener to participate in my sonic encounters with Southwest deserts through an immersive surround sound experience.
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