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Field Recording as a Performative Act


Published in The Sampler, 2016.


It is early September, and I’m sitting on a boat about to leave the harbor of Portmagee for Skellig Michael, the larger the of two sharp rocks that jut out of the Atlantic Ocean, a few miles west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. Once there we will climb the many steps to Saint Fionán’s remote monastery, claimed to have been founded in the 6th century.

Rather than a recording trip, I am sailing to Skellig as part of a weeklong road trip with my boyfriend along the southwest coast of Ireland to celebrate finishing my PhD at The Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC), Queen’s University, Belfast. I had not intended to switch my recording equipment on, but in this moment I don’t want to miss documenting our departure, and this holiday has mirrored so much of the process that I go through when making field recordings, and the wider projects they become part of.


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