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Philip Samartzis speaks about Bogong Centre for Sound Cultureʼs up coming masterclass

BY Madelynne Cornish | 11-Feb-2019
The Bogong Centre for Sound Culture offers its next instalment of their masterclass series The Art of Field Recording during the winter snow season in the Bogong High Plains. This five-day intensive masterclass is overseen by internationally acclaimed sound artists and recordists Douglas Quin [US] and Philip Samartzis [AU] The masterclass runs from July 1 to 5, 2019 at Howmans Gap, Victoria. #bogongsound @bogongsound #philipsamartzis #douglasquin #howmansgap
Masterclass
The Art of Field Recording has been designed to take advantage of the spectacular winter conditions of the Victorian Alps, in order to explore ways to make sound recordings in challenging, sometimes difficult conditions. Generally, a masterclass is presented in benign circumstances that are usually comfortable for participants. While this may be a good way to learn the basics of sound recording, the reality is that environmental conditions are often variable, and occasionally disagreeable to recording. The Art of Field Recording poses the fundamental question, how do you record when conditions arenʼt favourable? For instance, how do you record in snow, or during a violent wind storm, or when the landscape is deathly quiet, or extremely boisterous? The Art of Field Recording will be based at Howmans Gap in Victoriaʼs Alpine region, 350 kilometers North-East of Melbourne. At 1250 metres, Howmans Gap is well above the snowline and provides a beautiful setting for outdoor work. Four kilometres up the road are the spectacular Bogong High Plains which provide an expansive setting for deep fieldwork comprising mountains, valleys, lakes, and snowfields. This masterclass draws on the polar experience of Douglas Quin and Philip Samartzis who have undertaken extensive fieldwork in the Arctic, Antarctica and sub-Antarctica including Macquarie Island. Using their firsthand experience of working in extreme environments, they will demonstrate a range of recording techniques they use to draw out different characteristics from a diverse range of situations and conditions. These include detailed instruction on various microphone types and spatial configurations covering mono, stereo, binaural, ambisonic and multi-channel set-ups. They will also discuss ways of dealing with inclement conditions using windshields and windjammers, as well as recording techniques they use to mitigate turbulence, and the withering effects of cold. Douglas and Philip will also demonstrate different processing and spatialising techniques to expand the potential of sound recordings made in the field.

Accommodation and instruction will occur in the newly built Howmans Gap Alpine Centre, which will be fitted with an A/V theatre, specialist sound recording equipment, and a multi-channel playback system to audition different spatial standards. Immediately outside is a large expanse of snow-covered mountain ash bushland and river in which to practice different recording techniques and systems. Deep fieldwork in the Bogong High Plains will be led by a Field Training Officer affiliated with the Australian Antarctic Division, who will demonstrate basic preparation and survival techniques for alpine conditions.

During the masterclass various compositional strategies will be used to explain ways in which field recordings can be applied to different frameworks including composition, sound design, installation, or performance. Douglas and Philip will draw on works they have produced for various international partners and institutions to discuss innovative presentation concepts designed to attract broad audiences interested in the convergence of art, science and technology. They will also present personal insights into working with the United States National Science Foundation, and the Australian Antarctic Division, and the work they do to understand and preserve their polar territories.

The aim is to help participants significantly expand their technical capabilities within a pristine yet demanding Australian wilderness, in order to achieve a new level of sophistication within their artistic practice. The cold and the wind can be a source of agitation, but they also provide great recording opportunities once you know how to channel their creative potential. In addition, the masterclass also discusses the potential of fieldwork as artistic practice, how to use field recordings within compositions and sound designs, and how to develop innovative new presentation models for the artwork produced. The Art of Field Recording is especially designed for anyone seeking to advance themselves and their practice to the next level of their creative career.