The Listening Project May 11, 2012
The Listening Project, which allows anyone to upload their own conversations, is aided by smartphones and computers with inbuilt microphones and audio software, and the ease of editing and placing sound archives online.
There are some absolutely lovely snippets of conversations recorded on The Listening Project site, some really moving stories shared in just 3 or 4 minutes of recording.
From a storyline perspective, the piece of "data" that I haven't digitised or worked with in any form yet is a C90 cassette. My neglect isn't because it's forgotten. Rather because it's remembered.
Written words, even hand written ones, are normal and ordinary and everyday. We encounter them in many forms - scribbled notes, shopping lists, birthday cards, notes. The same is true of photographs - there are photos in most rooms in my house, the faces, even of long gone family members are familiar and regularly in my eye-line.
Voices are notably different. At The Story Matthew Herbert spoke about the lack of audio recordings of our shared history, of ambient sounds. For many, many years, people would go to a photographic studio and record their images, but people rarely recorded their voices.
I have the tape in front of me. It's labelled as "Conversations" in my hand writing. On side A it says "Conversation with Gran - 26/12/98". On side B it says "Conversation with Mum & Dad - April/98". I don't know if I've ever re-listened to them, beyond, I hope, checking that it had actually been recorded. I don't think I had any form of script, or plan. I think I just made it up as I went along. I'm not even sure why I did it at the time - it was before I lost or started to lose any of them.
This is now much more significant to me, as none of these individuals has a voice I can hear anymore. Almost too much significance as I can't bring myself to listen. I'm not sure whether how much of it is because I'm worried about the emotional pull and that I'll find it upsetting and how much is because I fear disappointment, that I find it isn't audible, or isn't interesting or relevant.
One day, I'll take the plunge. Just not today!