2005(1) – Manfred Werder

No-input recorder; stereophony – contribution to the Werder 2005(1) project on Another Timbre.


I used a recorder with two built in condenser microphones in a stereo configuration and two empty XLR/phone channels. The recordings were then normalised to make the empty channels audible. The result is sound recorded at the same position and in the same moment, from both inside and outside the recorder.

While the recorder’s stereophonic condenser mics are a fact of the device’s hardware, the two XLR/phone channels also output a single stereo sound file – a fact of the firmware. When the ‘stereo’ recording of the empty channels is normalised the maximum amplitude of the louder channel ‘blindly’ prevents the optimisation of the other. The absent programmer has imposed a stereophony where none exists: the empty channels are treated as ‘left’ and ‘right’ but – when empty – bear no such relationship to each other. Similarly, the sounds inside the recorder were recorded at the same place and time as the sounds outside the recorder, by the same device, yet they bear no recognisable relation to each other and mask each other’s qualities. They both complement each other and obliterate each other.

The double perspective of the no-input recorder highlights the impossibility of an unmediated recording. Attempting transparency emphasises the assumptions made by the designers and programmers who made the work possible. Attempting an unmediated representation foregrounds the mediation of the recording device. Monitoring while recording is impossible, as the low amplitude of the empty channels renders them imperceptible at the moment 2005/1 is instantiated – the same frame that encompasses both perspectives in representation frames out half the experience in realisation. And we are biologically anthropocentric, imposing our stereophony. Werder’s brackets may be in reference to this, implying the sounds that are bracketed out by the perceptual generalisation, deletion and distortion inherent in our position relative to the world. Our presence is inescapable, materialised here as noise in the system.

Recorded at Shirehampton Sailing Club, 19th June 2013

Manfred Werder - 2005(1) - Seth Cooke