Green, M. (2011), ‘In and Out of Context: Field Recording, Sound Installation and the Mobile Sound Walk’, 65,000 word PhD Thesis accompanied by portfolio of practice, Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast.
This thesis chronicles the practical and theoretical research that has been undertaken in conjunction with, and in support of, the creation of a portfolio of original works. The portfolio comprises five works of sound art: two are sound installations, and three are what I call ‘mobile sound walks’. All five works are site-specific, meaning that they have been designed for a specific space, in response to a specific social and environmental context, and take into account the cultural, historic and political significance of the hosting site.
The first half of this thesis is dedicated to an in-depth discussion of the work of six artists with whom I align my own creative practice. These include the composers Pierre Schaeffer, Luc Ferrari and R. Murray Schafer, who are noted for their use of everyday sounds as compositional material; the sound installation artists Max Neuhaus and Bill Fontana, who create site-specific, environmental sound art works; and Janet Cardiff, a pioneer of mobile sound art.
In the second half of this thesis I provide a detailed analysis of my own work, with a particular focus on my mobile sound walks, which use location-aware technologies as a means to map sounds across a landscape. Such technologies have received little attention through existing sound art discourses. This thesis addresses this lack, by offering conceptual perspectives and methodological tools for understanding and producing what I call ‘locative soundscape composition’.
Throughout this thesis I draw upon a range of critical theories and methodologies both from within, and from outside of, sound art studies, which help to shed new light on sound as it relates to, for example, the city, the politics of everyday life, the production of space and place, and the relationships between site-specific art, urban environments, and social actors.