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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

This Week in Sound: Death of a Field Recording Artist + …

A lightly annotated clipping service

This is lightly adapted from an edition first published in the August 26, 2019, issue of the free Disquiet.com weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound (tinyletter.com/disquiet).

As always, if you find sonic news of interest, please share it with me, and (except with the most widespread of news items) I’ll credit you should I mention it here.

Field recording is not for wimps. Remember the scene in Grizzly Man, the Werner Herzog documentary, in which we watch the director’s slowly contorting face as he listens, in a mix of fear and astonishment, to the audio of a dying Timothy Treadwell, the film’s title character, as Treadwell (an unfortunate name in this circumstance) is mauled by a bear? Keep that in mind as you read about the reported death of Julien Gaulthier, a “French artist who used sounds of nature in his music.” Gaulthier had been traveling in a remote stretch of Canada with a biologist, Camille Toscani, “recording new sounds for his work.” Toscani reports a “bear entered their camp at night and dragged Gauthier away.” (via Daniel C and Tobias Reber)

Sarah Jeong, a member of the editorial board of the New York Times, writes about Facebook and audio surveillance as part of The Privacy Project. It’s a limited-run email newsletter. The crux: “insistence that Facebook is not listening to you is, predictably, undermined by Facebook, which sometimes is secretly listening to you.” Jeong is distinguishing a widespread perception (that Facebook or some other service is serving something up to you in an ad or other content based on something you have said) from a reality (that Facebook, for example, is using humans to transcribe audio you may believe to be entirely private). This is the difference between a deep-seated anxiety and a practical, uncomfortable reality.

Consider sonic warfare as a subset of “hostile architecture“: that is, as an audio parallel to uncomfortable benches, skateboard-resistant ledges, and spiked window ledges.

“The harvesting of biometric data from sometimes vulnerable populations has raised concerns about the potential for mass surveillance.” Madhumita Murgia, European technology correspondent for the Financial Times, ties audio surveillance together with eye, face, and other technologies into a concern about biometric data.

That hyperviolent fighting video game is actually vegan food-violence porn. Or at least its sound effects are. (via NextDraft)

“Last month alone, Americans received an estimated 4.7 billion illegal spam calls.” Apparently a dozen major telecom providers are teaming up to fight this. The name of the underlying technological fix is STIR/SHAKEN, which sounds like a James Bond reference, apparently stands for “Secure Telephony Identity Revisited and Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs.”

The only thing worse than receiving a call from a spam number may be inadvertently asking your voice assistant to dial one. Your robo-assistant may be doing you a disservice that has nothing to do with invading your privacy. At least not in the manner you’ve come to be concerned about.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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