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August 05, 2008

Inside the Sony Ericsonn's digital lo-fi ear

This has been something of a pet project in spare pockets of my time in the past couple of weeks. I've been extracting the audio track from video recordings made with my mobile phone in quiet places.

Naturally, mobile phone videos come with a significant degree of noise, both in terms of video and audio. I discovered something interesting about the audio track when I was messing around with a short video I shot whilst driving back from McLaren Vale about a month ago. Using iMovie I slowed down the video as much as I could to see the visual effect, when I played it back the audio track had been rendered into an expected drone albeit with a strange selection of little digital artifacts - clicks, swooshes and echoes. Nice stuff in other words, from a Tsunoda/Julius/Minard point of view.

Over the past week I've been making some more recordings in quiet places, both rendering at slowed down (droney) and high speed (cicada-y) settings. Quiet places for the reason the built-in mic is partial to distortion and clipping at loud volumes and broad frequency ranges.

I like these sounds because they sound very artificial. Although they are sped up and slowed down, they're faithful to their original form in a somewhat disembodied and plastic manner. When one sound event is mixed with others, their respective semblance becomes obscured and new sonic identities and environments are evoked.

The example below is a sample montage of several recordings from several different locations. The audio from the recordings has been modified using the simple technique explained above, in many cases the original video track would be slowed down/sped up in its entirity, then selections of the modified audio would be selected for collage.

audio example [1:49]


Regular visitors to this blog will know I've always been an aficionado of lo-fi technologies, though I can first remember being introduced to the lo-fi potential of mobile phones a couple of years ago when a UK friend Kate Donovan set up a project called Airvent. The project involves her phone calls to a Berlin radio station who broadcast and record her movements around London, the sound of her surrounding environment is filtered to the listener via the mobile's low fidelity signal. Occasionally traffic, conversations, jackhammers and the sound of birds can be heard slipping through the digital ether. I assume the title is an analogy of sorts, the airvent as a carrier, amplifier and filter of sounds whose sources/locations are unknown to the listener.


I've also started recording using unorthodox acoustic filters, including, (LO!) a teapot in the garden the other night.


Sebastian Tomczak said...

I really love the idea of changing the speed of audio to bring out different elements of the sound or to bring out artifacts produced by the method of pitch / speed shifting.


Tristan Louth-Robins said...

Yes, how strange I didn't mention artifacts in that post! It's all about artifacts! I seem to have been on a flight of fancy the other nacht.

Sebastian Tomczak said...

You didn't actually mention artifacts in this post, but throughout this work (and other examples of your stuff) this idea of artifacts through process is heavily implied (at least I think so).

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