This image is from the California high-desert bacchanal Burning Man, during which Mark G. circulated Automated Hobo, a sound-harvesting experiment using cheap tape recorders and hand-written instructions.

I purchase cheap tape recorders at thrift stores and wherever, load them with batteries and blank tape, and write instructions on the outside that tell people to record something and then pass it on to someone else. When the tape’s full, return it back to me. I figured that since Burning Man emphasizes participation over spectatorship, I might get better response than I have in the past. I was right — three out of four recorders came back, and the highlights can be heard here.

Mark G. is with Evolution Controlled Creations (a.k.a. the intellectual-property renegade band Evolution Control Committee). Automated Hobo MP3 files are available for download, although apparently they are from 2000, while the photo is from a more recent festival. Recordings from the project have also been broadcast - knowing ECC they may also have been sampled into current or forthcoming musix.

One of the interesting aspects of found-sound is its uncontrolled nature… one can imagine a similar process whose intermediate point is a speech-to-text system. What wild writings and miswritings might emerge from the text-to-speech transcript of an itinerant tape recording?




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