IRL, an abbreviation for In Real Life, is used in net conversations when referring to offline, non-digital, face to face situations. The term suggests a false reality in digital communication. Field recording often aims to recreate sound places without any audible signs of the recording and editing process. The problem here is that in capturing the natural, synthetic recording is essential.
Contemporary society seems to be in a dilemma of lust towards both nature and the digital synthetic. In desiring the original, authentic sound, field recorders use digital recorders, electric microphones and computer editing software. Perhaps rather than a dilemma, there is a cyclical thought process. In aiming to capture a realist sound place, one uses digital software to create a mimic, the mimic is now labelled as the original recording and is then copied and distributed to an audience, the audience then listen to the piece which claims to capture the original sound and are under illusion of experiencing the IRL sound; the reality. Both listener and recorder are in limbo between two temporal desires.
The piece aims to celebrate the desire for both nature and the synthetic and this paradoxical failure. The work involves the sound of iPad App ‘Rainmoods’. The sounds on the App are both digitally recorded and played back yet the purpose is reproduce relaxing, natural sounds of rain and storm. The App somewhat parodies field recording as it claims to reproduce realist sounds yet it is contained in a highly disposable ‘on-trend’ electronic device. The App itself compares the quick-paced temporality of digital technology and the more ‘timeless’ IRL sound capture. Room noise, sounds from outdoors and clicks of buttons are included and the work is obviously and proudly a recording.
Even in capturing arguably ‘timeless’ sounds, such as weather, over many years creates a series of recordings which highlight the replaceability of various recording techniques. When the sound subject is the same, the styles of recording become the obvious differences. Even field recordings of urban landscapes have these qualities as digital technology is extremely temporal, more than longer-term architecture. The cyclical, non-linear thought process, the temporal technologies and the failure versus the persistence of natural realism correlate with ideas of low theory and queer temporality. The piece queers the presumed normativity of field recording and aims to use the synthetic discussions of the topic as platform for a sub-genre itself.
The aim here is not to reject contemporary field recording, rather to question the purpose of realism in recording. The work re-contextualises the concept of realism as an extremely synthetic, selective process. IRL, in terms of sound capture, could now be used to categorize field recordings which are proudly synthetic and for this very reason, more realistic.