Anna Lewis

Jones, Leona

ecoutez, Paris, France

Leona Jones was supported to develop a digital literature project with her German collaborator, Robert Kalman, for presentation at the Chercher le Texte conference in Paris in 2013. Following the project, Leona reported:

"The project comprised two strands:

1) produce a site-specific interactive audio Digital Literature work in collaboration with Robert Kalman, Germany (working title ‘├ęcoutez’, final title ‘Otto’s Notebook, p 37)

2) attend the international conference ‘Chercher le Texte’ to gain more experience of Digital Literature, during which the above work was presented as part of an on-line Virtual Gallery

Two visits to Paris were required for completion:

1) A 6-day visit to Paris (11-17 June 2013) with 5 intensive days of recording sounds and making notes for writing. Material was subsequently edited, manipulated, to produce texts and sounds that supported the multi-dimensional aspect of the work. The work was envisaged as using a more complex interface than our previous experiments, being multi-layered and multi-wreader, rather than single-wreader and single button/one sound file playable.

2) The conference and festival took place 23-28 September 2013, comprising live performances, presentations of papers, digital work accessible on-line, networking

Funding enabled me to make both visits successfully, and develop work which was able to be included in the Virtual Gallery. Although technically the work hit time-consuming problems which were unable to be fully resolved before the submission deadline, we were able to present documentation and a limited version of the envisaged work.

This is the only work in the Gallery that places audio as the prime element, and as such is highly experimental and original. I constructed sound files and text recordings to reflect the multi-layered model we developed for the work, and all the sound files were placed on the matrix with consideration to those around them.

The recording period took place during the peak summer tourist season and the city was highly populated and noisy. Originally I envisaged using a sensitive stereo microphone and 4-channel recorder for the majority of the recordings. However, as many of the sites were out-of-doors and the weather was windy, showery and raining for much of the time I had to change plans. I was able to use a handheld recorder with less difficulty as setup and dismantling is much quicker and easier, especially when serendipitous sound situations arose. The bulkier equipment was used in sheltered spaces, and the hydrophone also produced some very interesting recordings (photos attached). The funding allowed time to work, meaning I felt I was properly starting to understand the location, for example, hearing the unique sounds of individual metro stations. Written notes and photos taken while recording were used to generate texts conveying the multiple layers and atmospheres of this highly complex city.

I learned a great deal practically in making recordings at different times in the same location, eg Notre Dame bells, and this also caused me to think more deeply about field recordings and consider philosophically what they are.

Contextually the bells were very important for the overall project too, as the theory underpinning the project considers of how human technology, environment and human beings impinge on each other, interact with each other, causing change. We in the 21st century can never imagine the bells as they first impacted on ears, but the peal still makes a huge impact in the sound of the city. Whenever and wherever, humans react to their environment on an emotional and imaginative level, as well as physically and rationally. Having a period of time to be able to work on a project of this nature has given me the chance to consider the multiple aspects of digital literature and the creative opportunities this technology can offer."

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