Bivouac Recording is a field recording label based in Shanghai, China.
RePlacement is an installation that uses sound to redefine 'place' within enclosed environments. Locally recorded sounds are broadcast into a space to change the perceived location of the listener.
RePlacement is a commercial installation with a deep artistic roots. It is the culmination of many years of my experience as a location sound recordist and architect as well as my ever growing love for sound.
RePlacement is meant to be an extension of the physical interior design of a space where designers can influence the perception and creation of 'place' for the occupants. 'Place' is created by an individual by imposing meaning on a location as a result of the complementary components of a design or space, which includes both the visual and non-visual elements. Though the intended function of the space is predetermined by the designer and cannot be changed, the use of a non-visual medium can further redefine the space while still keeping its function. Non-visual redefinition comes in the form of non-descript, locally sourced soundscapes that do not remove the occupant from the larger area of the city or town, rather the sounds re-place them into another location within it. The space is now a 'Place' go to, to be somewhere else.
Through my experience of being a sound recordist for film productions, I have seen and heard a lot of spaces. One recent job that inspired this project this past summer, was in one of the large offices of a very successful young company that designed an app to help Chinese people to learn and speak English. This particular office was in a converted warehouse in Shanghai and had a fresh, trendy industrial feel to it so there were very high ceilings and several spacious public spaces. Most of the employees spent their day writing code so the people were sitting at their desks and plugging away deep in thought. Despite the large space, it was a quiet as a tomb even though there was around 200+ people working there.
It was almost sad to be in there. Visually it was magazine perfect, with splashes of color, interesting use of materials, fixtures, slanted walls, plenty of light, etc., but it makes you realize that the designer's mind is almost always silent.
We assume that the busy-ness of the office will fill the negative space, or air. It will naturally sound like an office because that is what it is. What a perfect location for RePlacement.
Each installation is unique and is dependent on many factors such as the use, function, location, and programming of the space. The recordings for RePlacement are locally sourced to ensure the occupants connection with the sounds. Sounds one is innately used to hearing is the most relatable and comfortable to a person. 'Comfort sounds', if you will.
The recording and production of the sounds is a complex and time-consuming process that we have made as efficient as possible while still keeping the sounds as organic as possible. The sounds are recorded in an area that is unique to each installation. Two times a month, small recorders are placed in several locations that are sonically appropriate and picked up the next day. The audio that we use to sequence will be in the same timeframe that the audio will be broadcast, say from 8am- 8pm depending on the client or use of the space. The recordings go on for one year and the result is 360 days of audio using about 5.5 TB of data. No two days will have the same sequence of sounds. Each recording is edited for easy listening by cutting out some noises as needed so as not to disrupt the location.
Design and deployment
After an initial meeting inspecting of the location and determining client requirements, the planning and design phase of the installation begins. In the case of non-completed spaces, we work with the designers' AV contractors to see the best way to integrate this system within the clients needs. We also have our own AV consultant firm that can design the entire system for existing designs.
While the design and installation process is being worked on, the first recordings are made and sequenced to be ready when the equipment installation is complete. The new recordings and sequences are installed in the on-site computer and broadcast every month. At the end of one year, the sequences will be finalized and the installation will be complete and ready to run indefinitely on reliable equipment and software. Even leap years are accounted for in the loop.
Suitable applications for this installation can be in semi-public/semi-private locations the provide facilities for one to stay for a short while. Some ideal locations are: corporate environments, galleries, libraries, lobbies, subway platforms, retail, hotels. Continuously loud, transient spaces are not really suitable for this installation.
If you have a project that you think would be suitable for RePlacement, please contact us.
tlloren [at] bivouacrecording.com