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tom moody


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Kabir Carter

I've been checking out a recent Rhizome proposal and related blogs by sound artist Kabir Carter, the fourth panelist in the upcoming blogging and the arts event. Carter's sound blogs (a term I'm using, not entirely accurate--more below) are linked to and described there as follows:

Effects

Effects is my first net project. Originally posted as a "stealth" LiveJournal blog, Effects purports to be a diaristic account of my life, but instead only offers dry accounts of sounds that I have heard, or imagine to have heard. While attempting to make LiveJournal friends who can track my accounts, I have periodically contributed to an ever growing catalog of acoustical accounts that never reveal much about me, but hopefully say many things about how I have experienced sound.

http://www.livejournal.com/~effects/

Walking In The City

I am presently realizing Walking in the City, a project commissioned by Subtropics, a Miami based music festival. I moblog (in real time) written descriptions and accounts of acoustic occurences that I audit while walking around New York City. The project was launched during Subtropics' festival opening, where 4 hours of my updates from the city were projected live in an arts and performance space in Miami. Until early April, I will continue to intermittently add to the initial log.

http://effects.blogs.com/subtropics/

http://www.subtropics.org/

I say the term "sound blogs" isn't entirely accurate, because unlike, say, David F. Gallagher's photoblog, which also records urban details in a diaristic way, Carter's journals don't document sounds via regular posting of .mp3 files, but rather verbal descriptions of audial phenomena. Many of these short, pointed, often poetic statements enter the journals "moblog" style--as the artist notes above, he types them into a handheld device, on the spot, from the locations where they were heard. The entries resemble a foley artist's deadpan record of sound effects in a movie or TV storyboard. Many of the "sounds" are actually visual descriptions of sound-producing activities, followed by the word "(inaudible)."
SFX: Two Street Signs Affixed to Same Post Vibrating against One Another

SFX #234 SFX: Bell Struck

SFX #233 SFX: Two Small Dogs Barking in Unison

SFX #232 UNKNOWN PERSON: "Not my fault the watermelon tastes like..."

SFX #231 UNKNOWN PERSON: "Police officer, can you go to the end of the train? There's a guy with a bag and blue jeans."

SFX #230 SFX: Droplet Falling from Small Bent Conduit (Inaudible)
I'm reminded of the Kenneth Goldsmith piece where the artist transcribed every word he spoke for a week and hung the transcriptions in a gallery. Like Goldsmith's work we take it on faith the artist isn't making stuff up. But Carter's blogs aren't as obviously sequential: he's moving around the city, and readers often must rely on their own deductive faculties to tell how (or whether) the sounds relate to each other--especially in the subtropics blog, where there's no timestamp. A run of posts gives you a feeling of momentary total immersion in a cacophonous, slightly unhinged street scene, and then you're abruptly transported underground, into a subway environment that feels equally random but has its own characteristic sonic events. The sheer amount and complexity of detail paints a cumulative impression of the city not ultimately that dissimilar from Gallagher's far more "accurate" (as in verifiable) photographic record. Both conjure a teeming world beyond our normal mundane powers of observation.

Reading Carter's blogs is highly recommended, although they would doubtless have a different kind of interest if you were one of those baffled LiveJournal Friends experiencing them in blog time--that is, following the posts as they appeared.

- tom moody 11-22-2004 7:12 pm [link]