“So, What Is Field Recording?”

You may be asking yourself ‚Äď ‚ÄúSo, what is Field Recording & Sound Art?‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Field recording is the term used for an audio recording produced outside of a recording studio. The definition of ‚Äėfield recordings‚Äô can be a bit vague as it is not a mainstream art form. The first field recordists were ethno-musicographers, travelling the world to remote areas in search of dying songs. Field recording of natural sounds, also called phonography (a term chosen to illustrate its similarities to photography), was originally developed as a documentary adjunct to research work in the field and folio work for film. With the introduction of high-quality portable recording equipment, it has subsequently become an evocative artform in itself. In the 1970s both processed and natural phonographic recordings became popular.

The use of field recordings in avant-garde, musique concrète, experimental, and more recently ambient was evident almost from the birth of recording technology. Most noteworthy for pioneering the conceptual and theoretical framework with art music that most openly embraced the use of raw sound material and field recordings was Pierre Schaeffer who was developing musique concrète as early as 1940. Further impetus was provided by the World Soundscape Project initiated by Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer in the 1970s; this work involved studying the acoustic ecology of a particular location by use of field recordings. Field recordings are now common source material for a range of musical results from contemporary musique concrète compositions to film soundtracks, video game soundtracks, and effects. The sounds recorded by any device, and then transferred to digital format are used by some musicians through their performance with MIDI interfaced instruments.

Last, but definitely in first place in chronological order, remembered for the importance and the boldness of their projects are Luigi Russolo, who with the manifesto The Art of Noises as early as 1913, gave musical value to environmental noise and then with the design and construction of Intonarumori, the first instruments for making noise, and his close collaboration with musician Francesco Balilla Pratella succeeded in using the noise coupled to a symphony orchestra. And also Filippo Tommaso Marinetti who was the main theoretical of the movement called Futurism.

Street Photography & The Law

In general under the law of the United Kingdom one cannot prevent photography of private property from a public place, and in general the right to take photographs on private land upon which permission has been obtained is similarly unrestricted. However, landowners are permitted to impose any conditions they wish upon entry to a property, such as forbidding or restricting photography. Two public locations in the UK, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, have a specific provision against photography for commercial purposes without the written permission of the¬†Mayor,¬†or the Squares’ Management Team and paying a fee,¬†and permission is needed to photograph or film for commercial purposes in the¬†Royal Parks.

Persistent or aggressive photography of a single individual may come under the legal definition of harassment.

It is an offence under the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 to publish or communicate a photograph of a constable (not including PCSOs), a member of the armed forces, or a member of the security services, which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. There is a defence of acting with a reasonable excuse, however the onus of proof is on the defence, under section 58A of the Terrorism Act 2000. A PCSO cited Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to prevent a member of the public photographing him. Section 44 actually concerns stop and search powers. However, in January 2010 the stop-and-search powers granted under Section 44 were ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights.

Following a prolonged campaign, including a series of demonstrations by photographers dealt with by Police Officers and PCSOs, the Metropolitan Police was forced to issue updated legal advice which now confirms that ‘Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel’ and that ‘The power to stop and search someone under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 no longer exists.’

It is also an offence under section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to take a photograph of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or possessing such a photograph. There is an identical defence of reasonable excuse. This offence (and possibly, but not necessarily the s.58A offence) covers only a photograph as described in s.2(3)(b) of the Terrorism Act 2006. As such, it must be of a kind likely to provide practical assistance to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. Whether the photograph in question is such is a matter for a jury, which is not required to look at the surrounding circumstances. The photograph must contain information of such a nature as to raise a reasonable suspicion that it was intended to be used to assist in the preparation or commission of an act of terrorism. It must call for an explanation. A photograph which is innocuous on its face will not fall foul of the provision if the prosecution adduces evidence that it was intended to be used for the purpose of committing or preparing a terrorist act. The defence may prove a reasonable excuse simply by showing that the photograph is possessed for a purpose other than to assist in the commission or preparation of an act of terrorism, even if the purpose of possession is otherwise unlawful.

“So, What Is Street Photography?”

Street Photography

Street photography is photography that features the human condition within public places and does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. The subject of the photograph might be absent of people and can be an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character in facsimile or aesthetic.

Framing and timing are key aspects of the craft, with the aim of creating images at a decisive or poignant moment. Much of what is now widely regarded, stylistically and subjectively, as definitive street photography was made in the era spanning the end of the 19th Century through to the late 1970s; a period which saw the emergence of portable cameras. The portable camera enabled¬†candid photography¬†in public places became an issue of discussion. Street photographers create¬†fine art photography¬†(including street portraits) by capturing people in public places, often with a focus on emotions displayed, thereby also recording¬†people’s history¬†from an emotional point of view.¬†Social documentary photographers¬†operate in public places documenting people and their behavior in public places for recording people’s history and other purposes.


Psychogeography¬†is an approach to¬†geography¬†that emphasizes playfulness and “drifting” around urban environments. It has links to the¬†Situationist International. Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by¬†Guy Debord¬†as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”¬†Another definition is “a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities… just about anything that takes¬†pedestrians¬†off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new¬†awareness¬†of the urban landscape.”


In psychogeography, a d√©rive (French: [/de. Āiv/], “drift”) is an unplanned journey through a landscape, usually urban, on which the subtle aesthetic contours of the surrounding architecture and geography subconsciously direct the travellers, with the ultimate goal of encountering an entirely new and authentic experience. Situationist theorist Guy Debord defines the d√©rive as “a mode of experimental behavior linked to the conditions of urban society: a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances.” He also notes that “the term also designates a specific uninterrupted period of d√©riving.”

The concept of the d√©rive has its origins in the Letterist International of the 1940s, an artistic and political collective based in Paris, where it was a critical tool for understanding and developing the theory of psychogeography, defined as the “specific effects of the geographical environment (whether consciously organized or not) on the emotions and behavior of individuals.” The d√©rive, an unplanned tour through an urban landscape directed entirely by the feelings evoked in the individual by their surroundings, served as the primary means for mapping and investigating the psychogeography of these different areas.

The d√©rive continued to be a critical concept in the theories of the Situationist International, a radical group of avant-garde artists and political theorists that succeeded the Letterist International in the 1950s. For the situationists, the d√©rive was a technique for exploring an urban landscape’s psychogeography and engaging in new experiences. According to situationist theorist Guy Debord, in performing a d√©rive, the individual in question must first set aside all work and leisure activities, clearing their minds of all their usual motives for movement and action, then let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.

Dérives are necessary, according to situationist theory, because of the increasingly predictable and monotonous experience of everyday life in advanced capitalism. The dérive grants a rare instance of pure chance, an opportunity for an utterly new and authentic experience of the different atmospheres and feelings generated by the urban landscape. Debord observes in his Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography:

The sudden change of ambiance in a street within the space of a few meters; the evident division of a city into zones of distinct psychic atmospheres; the path of least resistance that is automatically followed in aimless strolls (and which has no relation to the physical contour of the terrain); the appealing or repelling character of certain places ‚ÄĒ these phenomena all seem to be neglected. In any case they are never envisaged as depending on causes that can be uncovered by careful analysis and turned to account.


Fl√Ęneur, from the French noun¬†fl√Ęneur, means “stroller”, “lounger”, “saunterer”, or “loafer”.¬†Fl√Ęnerie¬†refers to the act of strolling, with all of its accompanying associations.

The¬†fl√Ęneur¬†was, first of all, a literary type from 19th century¬†France, essential to any picture of the streets of¬†Paris. The word carried a set of rich associations: the man of¬†leisure, the idler, the urban explorer, the connoisseur of the street. It was¬†Walter Benjamin, drawing on the poetry of¬†Charles Baudelaire, who made this figure the object of scholarly interest in the 20th century, as an emblematic archetype of urban, modern experience.¬†Following Benjamin, the fl√Ęneur has become an important symbol for scholars, artists and writers.

If you are a street photographer you partake in Psychogeography.
You go on a d√©rive¬†and become a fl√Ęneur.