My name is Des Coulam and I have been recording sound on and off for the last fifty years.
I live in Paris and several years ago I decided to embark upon recording and archiving the contemporary sound tapestry of the city in, as far as I know, a more comprehensive way than it’s been done before.
Photo by Céline Bansart
I am an aural flâneur and, in the best tradition of the 19th century Parisian flâneur, I walk the streets of Paris endlessly, observing – but in my case observing through active listening.
My work is influenced by the late 19th and early 20th century Parisian street photographers, from Eugène Atget’s painstaking photographic documentation of a Paris being torn down in the late 19th century to make way for Baron Haussmann’s massive urban development scheme, to Robert Doisneau’s evocative street photography and pioneering photojournalism.
While these great photographers certainly influence my work the inspiration to begin my detailed exploration of the contemporary sound tapestry of Paris came from a different source, the French novelist, essayist, and filmmaker, Georges Perec, who taught me how to observe what is happening when nothing is happening.
For most of our history we have used artefacts, architecture, pictures and words to create a vision of our past. It’s only in the last few seconds on our historical clock that we have been able to capture and record sound. Almost all our sonic heritage has passed by unrecorded. That is why I, and many others, are dedicated to recording and archiving the sounds around us so that future generations will have the sounds of our time to explore, to study and to enjoy.
The digital age has made sound recording easier than ever before with smaller, affordable, high quality sound recorders and a plethora of good quality microphones to suit every application. But hardware is not everything; it’s simply a means to an end. Unforgettable sound recordings are limited only by one’s imagination.
I have published the sound clips in this blog for the enjoyment of those who choose to listen to them.
Excerpts from this blog may be used for non-commercial purposes, provided that full and clear credit is given to Soundlandscapes and soundlandscapes.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.