A Deep Forest Creek

by David Michael

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  • Optical Disc

    With the sound environment around Mamori Lake as subject, this piece is about how we experience time, and the devices we use to assist in this experience.

    This professionally duplicated DVD contains the entire 19 hour recording in 2 Stereo MP3 files: Creek and Forest, reflecting each of the stereo arrays on location.

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  • Memento

    A Deep Forest Creek is a 19 hour 36 minute continuous audio recording taken in 2 stereo channels near Mamori Lake in Amazonas, Brasil. The recording is housed and played back from a wooden box (a memento), with outputs for headphone listening or connection to loudspeakers. Playback begins when the box is turned on, and ends with the completion of the recording, or when the box is turned off. The exact duration of the recording reflects an attempt at capturing a full 24 hours of the sound environment, limited by the logistical factors of deployment and retrieval as well as the weather.

    While the events recorded at the creek were overwhelmingly public (though without human audience), the presentation as a memento suggests to a listener that the experience of A Deep Forest Creek is a private one. This is perhaps true of all mementos. There are two outputs for headphones so that the memento can be shared, but only so much. Each output contains the stereo field of a separate set of microphones. Many of the events happen simultaneously in both headphones, but the stereo fields are are different.

    A Deep Forest Creek reflects two forms of memory devices. The recording is a device in the technological sense, fixing and playing back events from an electromagnetic memory, in this case a CompactFlash EEPROM. The embodiment of the recording suggests a memento, which is a memory device in the sense that "device" refers to a technique - a memory helper. While traditionally mementos evoke memories of past experience, here the memento itself contains the entire experience. A tiny world captured in a box.
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A note to listeners: In this recording, I have made little effort to edit out the sounds of man, which make it even to what would seem to be a remote area of rainforest. There is an occasional overhead flight and small watercraft may be audible from the nearby lake. I find these disturbances to be minimal, but as part of the natural soundscape, I have chosen to leave these in.

With the sound environment around Mamori Lake as subject, this piece is about how we experience time, and the devices we use to assist in this experience.

The area around Mamori Lake, in the Brasilian state of Amazonas, is classified by the World Wildlife Fund as tropical moist broadleaf forest. More specifically, it is part of a terrestrial ecoregion characterized by flooded forests that are seasonally inundated by overflow from the rivers of the lower Amazon [6]. Stable temperatures, consistent light, and copious amounts of water drive a relentless turnover of organic matter that supports extremely high biodiversity.

The sound environment of the tropical forest is incredibly dynamic. The actuation of millions of living things interact in specific spaces and times to produce collective sound structures at many different time scales, frequencies, and intensities. Some of the temporal structures, like the chorusing of frogs, are relatively easy to hear. But the structures at much longer durations, like the sound of day, are somewhat outside our conscious perception. We can describe in words how the sound environment of the forest evolves over the course of the day, but it is incredibly challenging to be engaged in the act of listening for this period of time.

At long timescales, our experience is perceived through memory. The "thickness" of the present moment is actually quite minimal, and is intimately tied to our physiology. The pressures of metabolism, the environment, and the temporal range of our own neural oscillations limit our ability to experience a day as a complete structural unit. We attend to shorter, more local events one at a time and then reflect on the entirety of what has happened.

All tracks are samples, excerpted from the full recording.

For more, visit deepforestcreek.heroku.com


released February 14, 2010

The recording was made as part of the Mamori Sound Project from November 4th - 17th, 2009. Mamori Sound Project is an artist residency and workshop organized by Francisco Lopez and held at the Mamori Art Lab located on Mamori Lake in the lowland tropical rainforest near Manaus, Brasil.



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