There are so many angles from which one can consider these ideas, technical
and aesthetic. Looking back on my own reaction to early CD reissues, for
instance, the flawlessness that seemed to be a commercial requirement for
promotion of the new medium also removed the content further from actual
experience. It may have been the flaws in analog media that helped its
mechanical nature to seem more organic, and helped us to suspend disbelief.
Is it any wonder (social aspects aside) that the Grunge aesthetic soon
followed the new perfection of recording techniques, along with the
continuing re-adoption of imperfect old studio tools?
As a devotee of Walker Evans, it's not hard for me to make this leap. It is
the imperfections of age and use that give objects their humanity, symbolic
of lives and experience. Perhaps this is true even when those humanizing
flaws are technical side-effects rather than artifacts of human touch.
Having long ago accepted mechanical substitutes for actual experience, we
still rebel against inhuman perfection, a rebellion made more urgent and
necessary as the lived experience of living becomes ever more challenged by
the relentless substitution of perfected media representation.
Allow me to give thanks today for all that I've learned and the ideas born
from the discussions and arguments of this remarkable community. Best wishes
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Art Shifrin
Sent: Thursday, November 22, 2012 7:25 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Stuff of which dreams are made
Static (meaning fixed media, not their artistic content) works of art and
engineering that have significant damage have long been cherished despite
their material / structural flaws. These include buildings, statues,
graphics, and a probably unlimited range of objects. So it's completely
reasonable and reassuring that miserably made and or worn & damaged
recordings can be appreciated by those who can 'filter out' what's wrong.
I include 'reassuring' because if such appreciations were not occurring,
then the artifacts would be even more likely to be discarded and or
destroyed than if not.
At first thought I was thinking that the noises, distortions, and or
perturbations of recordings might be analogous to cracks in the media
(paint, wax, ink, et. al.) of graphics, or the materials of objects. But
given how such things are 'seen', that's not necessarily so. Given
adequate light, especially for large or enormous things if viewed from
adequately long distances, the flaws can even disappear. Listening to a
far enough away from its transducer, and or with other acoustic impediments
might be comparable.
Tom's proposal to achieve improvements via modifying virtual grooves should
be extended to restoring what's missing, not 'merely' (the word's NOT
intended to be sarcastic or derisive) smoothing out flaws. I presume that
sufficient computing power (software not included) exists can be mustered
to simulate the audio contents that were replaced by the 'side effects' of
the damage: make the grooves 'appear' as they did (or probably did) before
they were altered. Then, when all of the audio's read back by the
image-to-sonic process, differences between the portions that underwent
various extents of repair / replacement could be minimized if not be
distinguishable from one other.
A simple example of this principle is replacing the disruptions in 'silent'
(a misnomer) portion of a recording. Slugging in state-of-the-art 'silence'
amongst any kinds of audible noise results in much more noticeable dropouts
than inserting the same kind of noise and room tone. This should even
include periodic problems such as thumping that can't be completely
I think that it's comparable to film and video tape tape restoration when
production stills and captions replace what's missing. It's noticeable but
less jarring than the alternative.
Think of each sample and bit depth as an audio 'still'. String enough of
them together, play 'em fast enough, and they could hopefully sound as if
the grooves had never decayed or been damaged.
Happy Thanksgiving from
Shiffy, Marlene & Spencer