Environments 1: The Psychologically Ultimate Seashore

Syntonic Research, 1969

Environments     Photo: Courtesy of Syntonic Research

The Environments series ran to 11 volumes, produced between 1969 and 1979 by a Manhattan company called Syntonic Research, whose avowed interest was in exploring the relationship between mood and the sonic environment. Psychologically Ultimate Seashore—a 30-minute recording of nothing but tumbling, lapping waves—was dreamed up by Syntonic founder Irv Tiebel and noted avant-garde composer Tony Conrad, who in turn credited environmental artist Walter De Maria’s use of ocean recordings in his installations. Tiebel employed a standard reel-to-reel tape machine and a cheap portable mic to capture excerpts of ocean waves on the shores of Brooklyn's Brighton Beach, then fed everything into an early IBM mainframe, applying rudimentary digital processing to produce an experience Tiebel described as “more real than real.”

DID YOU KNOW: Tiebel made his recordings after night fell to limit bird sounds and other distractions, although distant foghorns can occasionally be heard.

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