I am a sound artist working predominantly with field recordings with an emphasis on post-processing, however recently I have become quite interested in open world video games and the extensive sonic environment that is built for them. Using procedural generation to create texture and form in game graphics is quite common, and I found the structure and dispersal of sounds used in open world games to follow a similar pattern. Pre-recorded blocks of specific sounds are algorithmically generated and distributed, although there is always a reference to specific location within the open world. The actual gameplay then dictates how and when these blocks of sound are used, creating a different sound experience every time you enter this environment. This is heightened by the ability to „roam“ throughout what are quite large and distinct worlds. I felt it possible to create sound works built around these generative sound environments. Following this, I approached the open world in a similar manner in which I approach field recording in „real“ environments. Basically, I listened and followed my ears.
I think it is also interesting to mention the topic of appropriation which will naturally arise in this kind of work. Of course there are elements of appropriation present in these pieces, but compared to the static nature of an artist such as Richard Prince, I feel these pieces are a substantial variation on that. In many ways field recording is the collation of data; if in an open world environment the data is procedurally generated, yet appears in a near arbitrary manner, then the collection of this data would nearly always be different. In layman’s terms, I would always end up with recordings of varying sets of sounds regardless of the fact I was in the same, contained environment with a finite set of sounds. In many ways this is closer to recording „real“ environments, than the appropriation of someone else’s invariable work.
This project also reflects my interests in the writings of Luis Borges and Jean Baudrillaud, whose ideas and thoughts on the notion of simulacra I find fascinating. The process of developing substitute or proxy sound environments that are perceived as real, yet simultaneously occupying a facade that is also inherently false presents another layer of meaning for the listener. Of course, these pieces still rely on the work of others, and they would not be possible without the brilliant work of the recordists, programmers and coders that create these remarkable environments. It is a testimony to their skills that it is possible to approach these locations in a „purist“ field recording mode and produce different, vivid results.
All recordings taken from journeys through open world gameplay, directly onto a Zoom H6 Recorder, with minor editing and equalisation in Protools. Due to the unknown quantity that is copyright law and litigation, I feel it is wise to refrain from mentioning which particular game I used. Let’s just say the title has an emphasis on the magnificent larceny of people movers. Images also taken from open world gameplay.
1 Meadows, flies, aeroplane and machinery
2 Peaks, flies, birds, radioactivity, trains and subterranean areas
3 Mountain streams, owls, coyotes and detonators
4 Meth lab, machinery, steps and outboards
5 Bouys and more flies
5 Tracks (41′33″)
Field Recording Series by Gruenrekorder
Gruenrekorder / Germany / 2017 / GrDl 169 / LC 09488