Travel Sounds Cu-Up Proposal – Michael Importico

I want to make field recording of me making a journey by car and reordered at random intervals using the ‘cut up’ technique invented by William S. Burroughs and Ian Sommerville.  I want the essence of travel to remain a theme despite being out of order in the chronological sense.  Through this random act of splicing the audio of this journey, I am interested to see if the notion of movement or travel is still present.  Im curious if the sense of travel is embedded in the sounds themselves, and to a lesser degree the sequence of the sounds.  I’m interested in collecting sounds from my car en-route to a destination.  I want to put contact microphones at various locations on my car and mix these sounds together for a complete sound of my vehicle in transit.  I want to place microphones under the hood to get the sounds of acceleration and shifting gears.  Also, I’d like to add in exhaust sounds as they directly correspond to the engine sounds by recording them in a live mix.  Additionally, I think collecting the sounds of the door opening and closing would denote the beginning and end of the work.

The original un-cut up recording will be recorded and mixed live and have a sequence similar to this.

Door opening and closing -> engine starting  -> put into gear -> driving, stopping, turn signals -> stopping, out of gear ->door opening door closing.

I want the sounds to be very literal for the original sequence.  Its should very clearly tell the story of a journey, without any specific point of origin or destination, but more about the travel itself.  I want to choose this “on the road” theme because the action of being in motion or transit is very much a ‘place’ albeit one in constant flux, but this is what I hope to capture and express.

I’ve become interested in the introduction of the random element of the cut-up through the works of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin.  Bruits du Beaubourg (June 13th, 1977) by Brion Gysin is a collage that inspired me to think of the action of motion and what sonic qualities are inherent.

Additionally, time is a powerful component order and sequence, the random act of reordering time adds the potential of an unforeseen happening. The work by poet John Giorno has a playful way of dealing with time.  This is an interesting application of mixing a delay through electronic means and the mixing and re-reading of his own out of time. John Giorno – excerpt from Put Your Ear to Stone & Open Your Heart to the Sky 

I think the listening context is best described as active listening, in which the listener is asked to pay close attention to the audio.  Additionally, I think this work should be heard through headphones in an effort to block out ambient room sounds/noises.

-michael importico



One thought on “Travel Sounds Cu-Up Proposal – Michael Importico

  1. Hi Michael,

    I’m really curious to hear how this has been going so far! One of the things that comes to mind is the extent to which you want to explore this journey in space. It’s interesting, because you’re dealing with sounds that have the idea of a journey at their heart, but, as you say, without a point of origin or a destination. Also, based on your description of the recording process, it seems like there won’t be an inherent sense of movement through space. So all that is left is the connotation — the idea of what the sounds themselves might evoke in a listener. I guess the question I’m indirectly getting at is: where is the listener? Is the listener intended to imagine him/herself in the car/on the journey? Outside, watching the car go by? Not that the listener has to be placed somewhere explicitly, but it seems like space is something to thoroughly consider in your piece. Also, there was a quote from one of the readings that made me think of your project — I think it was from Bill Fontana, where he was talking about the road as a sculptural object with no beginning/end and no one correct perspective. It’s in the Andueva article, I believe. Even though you will be reordering your materials randomly, I wonder if the visual image of the road as described by Fontana might be somehow useful or relevant to your work.

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