Backroads is a 45-minute piece for video and 8-channel audio that concerns the experience of living in driving through Texas by the juxtaposition of visual drones – driving the back roads of rural Texas – with ambisonic field recordings of contrasting acoustic environments and positive organ drones.
The bulk of my research has been into tying together Art and Science in this piece. The primary way I’ve found to do so concerns Neuroscience.
The sensation of being almost asleep with your eyes open while driving on a monotonous road, formally defined as highway hypnosis or Driving Without Awareness (DWA), forms the basic perceptual state of Backroads. Each section of Backroads explores a different neurological variation of DWA by the use of coordinated video and audio processing. Backroads is an artistic exploration of the expressive potential of highway hypnosis that is contained within a safe performance context rather than on the potentially-dangerous open road. The disconnection between the conscious and subconcious during DWA, the wandering of the mind as in mediation serves as both a structural delimiter and a perceptual inspiration for Backroads.
This concern with DWA through the lens of Neuroscience came about by reading an essay by one of my favorite field recording artists, Toshiya Tsunoda, in the online journal reductive. Tsunoda’s questioning the nature of field recording sparked my imagination. In particular, Tsunoda comments on how a recording is not so much a record of reality but rather an image created separately from the time/space as a sort of landscape painting (that forms itself inside the mind of the listener). This observation made me want to explore the internal, neurological aspects of the elements of Backroads: What is it about driving these roads and listening to field recordings that creates such a powerful perceptual experience to me?
Additionally, I’ve begun my Art/Research Framework graph by drawing out my creative practice from the most broad perspective possible. As I further develop my framework, I plan on delving deeper into the connections between study/research, community and creating. You can see my first draft of my framework illustration below.