Seduced by Technology

>Date: Thu, 9 Apr 98 01:47:16 EDT
>From: "David Staudacher" <quiet@igc.org>
>To: acoustic-ecology@sfu.ca
>Subject: Re: SOUND BOX -- Web Broadcast Project

>While reading through the SOUND BOX list and clearing my in
>box of messages about recording and sound reproducing
>technologies, I am once again given to wonder about the focus
>of this list and of "acoustic ecology" in general. By way of
>analogy with the more familiar "web of life" concept of
>ecology, it is as if those in that discipline were primarily
>concerned with collecting and preserving specimens of various
>species, debating the relative merits of their collecting
>paraphrenalia, while in their very own neighborhoods, pollution
>was driving species into extinction. Why isn´t the idea of
>"conservation" heard here more often? This was the crucial
>idea resulting from the breakthrough in which the Life and
>Earth sciences finally overcame their traditional narrow and
>isolated methods to investigate the relationships _between_
>species. Thus was "ecology" born.

>Recording/reproducing technology cannot be the _ultimate_
>means of preserving sound species, anymore than a
>holographic/quadraphonic recording would be the _ultimate_
>means of preserving rare, endangered biological species.
>Ultimately, we need CONSERVATION OF HABITAT. In the "web of
>life", this means respecting the natural world and establishing
>reserves free of human interference. In the "web of sound",
>this ought to translate into CONSERVATION OF QUIET, with respect
>for natural sonic ambience and "acoustic reserves" free of
>noise pollution where sounds are preserved in their natural
>context. Yet this point of view is very seldom heard here. Why
>is that? The near unanimous orientation here seems concerned
>with new recordings and CDs which, in "ecological" terms,
>always calls to my mind the idea of using perfume on a landfill.

>If anyone here is working from the perspective of conservation, I´d
>really like to hear about that sort of thing more often.

>David Staudacher - quiet@igc.org


Date: Thu, 10 Apr 98 10:47:16 EDT
From: Ron Pellegrino <ronpell@microweb.com>
To: acoustic-ecology@sfu.ca, "David Staudacher" <quiet@igc.org>
Subject: Re: SOUND BOX -- Web Broadcast Project

Hi David:

I´m pleased to read your clearly articulated position regarding the present state of the acoustic ecology list and the sound world in general. Once again, I'd like your permission to post your message on the Quest for Audio Excellence section of my site. In the past I´ve posted several messages on the acoustic-ecology list with questions and issues related to your statement; the return on those posts is what I would call mixed results. But I must say that I truly appreciate the clarity and strength of your statement. People, especially young ones, seem to be so seduced by the glamour of technology that they forget (perhaps never were introduced to) the fundamental issues such as natural contexts and sources of silence and acoustic sound plus the fact that quiet is the requisite background for both. I say this as someone who´s devoted over three decades to researching, composing, and performing with affordable emerging technology in the arts. Technology is not the enemy; the onus lies with the mindsets of people using the technology.

Given the number of musicians who subscribe to the acoustic ecology list I also find it somewhat perplexing that there are so few posts about "conserving the habitat" of music, the integrity of soundspaces devoted to music. Those soundspaces are under attack from partially deaf and poorly educated audio engineers who, via their incompetent sound reinforcement efforts, are increasingly positioning themselves as filters and interpreters between the music/musicians and the audience to the detriment of both entities. For years on this issue I've been rattling the cages of audio engineers on the section of my site called Quest for Audio Excellence. The Quest essays receive numerous responses from professional audio engineers but very few from musicians. I simply can´t understand why musicians, their audiences, and anyone interested in acoustic ecology are giving up hallowed soundspaces to techno-blinded, increasingly deaf, unmusical audio engineers.

Ron Pellegrino


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