CCT335: Lab #2 – Field RecordingAssigned: Jan. 25thDue: Feb 8th 12PM4890727010_905c72a75f_b.jpeg photo: Francisco Meirino
“Field recordings are fascinating not as ‘documents’, representation or simulations of ‘reality’, but rather as separated worlds in themselves. For most people the fact that a recording cannot convey ‘the real thing’ is a shortcoming of the medium. For me it’s precisely the opposite: this recording medium is in fact richer than reality, since it has been gathered by non-cognitive entities, i.e. the recording devices we use”Francisco Lopez

Overview: In the last assignment we focused our attention on documenting the numerous examples of technological infrastructure that are deployed throughout urban space. In conducting this research you undoubtedly noticed the degree to which these objects were ‘hidden in plain site’, for the second lab we will also focus on examining another aspect of the environment that is easily overlooked – the soundscape. Our second lab will require using an audio recording device to collect a field recording of a public space.
Exercise: Each student will be required to document what they consider to be a vital communal space and prepare a brief expository text that describes the recording and their chosen site. This exercise will challenge students to think about non-visual forms of representing urban experience and also serve as an introduction (or refresher) to working with audio. Some rough guidelines:

  • your recording should be 4-6 minutes and encoded as an MP3 (320 kbps bitrate preferred)
  • you may record yourself walking through your chosen site or instead find it useful to fix the recorder in place
  • the recording should be a ‘continuous take’ – no editing is required
  • do not narrate your recording – you are capturing the sound of your space and can provide commentary via the requirement below
  • take note of the time, date of your recording – and note this information in the title of your walk when submitting
  • you should also take a photograph of your site and will be required to accompany your submission with a 75-100 word brief contextualizing the soundscape you've recorded and describing how it is a public space.

Possible spaces to study/document:
  • A public square
  • A park
  • A key street or pedestrian thoroughfare
  • A bus terminal or subway station
  • a 'temporary space' like a farmers market or political rally

...but beyond the location you document, be mindful of the time you make your recording – try to document your site at an interesting moment.

Submission Guidelines: All students will be required to set up an account with and ‘share’ their recording with the class account at – submission instructions are available here.

Evaluation: This exercise is worth 10% of the final grade. Late penalties will be applied as per the terms outlined on the course outline. In marking the assignment the following will be considered:

  • thoughtfulness of site selection
  • clarity, insight, writing style and grammar of accompanying statement
  • recording quality will slightly effect your mark – we don't expect incredible recordings but an inferior recording (recorded at too low an input level, or extremely distorted or muffled) will probably result in your being penalized. Greg will be conducting a brief field recording 101 session (~10 min) in the lab session on the 25th.

Example Field Recordings:

Field Recording Example – The Eaton Centre, December 23rd 2010 ~7pm by cct335-w11
Robarts Perimeter, July 28th 2010 by G. Smith by cct335-w11
Religious Showdown – November 20th 2010 by M. Trommer by cct335-w11