Currently viewing the category: "SARF"

I had the honor of giving a presentation at the Archives of American Art as a sort of wrap-up of my time at Smithsonian. I talked a bunch about my work in general using some examples like Ocean Voices:

and Voices Without Faces, Voices Without Races:

And then I talked about my hopes for a future exhibit at Smithsonian (more info in this previous post).

I recorded the talk and the subsequent question/answer period for those who may be interested:

Audio MP3

And for the really committed among you, here is a pdf of the Keynote slides:

I can’t believe it is my second to last day here.  I’m kind of sad to leave because I’ve had a great time, but I’m very happy to be heading home as well.  I imagine most SARF fellowships end in a beginning, really.  There is only so much you can get done in two months and if interesting and exciting ideas are generated, they will need to be kept alive well past this research stage.

I know that I will be back, probably quite a lot.  Things are progressing for a potential future exhibit and if that happens, there will be many more trips.  Here’s a (not so) pretty picture of what I am thinking for the exhibit:

  • blue buildings: Smithsonian art museums whose archives I will be using in the exhibit
  • gray circles: different sections of the location-based musical composition
  • orange dots: archival artist voice recordings
  • red dots: present-day participant recordings

I included this diagram in a presentation I gave at the Archives of American Art today which attempted to wrap up what I have done with my time here.  It was a really useful exercise to take a step back and assess and try to put it all into a few Keynote slides. I feel like I have just begun something very exciting and potentially far-reaching and influential in my career…let’s hope I’m right!

I was talking to a pair of wonderful curators from the National Portrait Gallery earlier this week and they had a simple yet very cool idea.  Why not integrate my pan-museum sound piece with specific concurrent exhibits in the various SI museums by making use of voices of the artists represented in those exhibits?  That was a long sentence for something purported to be simple, but basically the idea is if there is an exhibit on, say, abstract paintings at a certain museum and there happened to be recordings of the artists in the exhibit in the archives, I could use those voices in interesting ways related to the exhibit.

In many ways, this might seem to be more promotion than anything else, but since my work always comes from the site-specific inputs and raw materials I collect or am presented with, I am excited to think about how such connections could influence the aesthetic content of the piece.  I really like the idea of my piece filling the ‘spaces between the museums’ with something that is both new and old, is always evolving and is directly related to the Smithsonian, its history and how that relates to the present day.  By connecting my piece, however obtusely, to something happening concurrently inside a museum that participants can visit and experience as well, I think that the piece would become not only an experience in and of itself, but also something that encourages other related experiences.

My work is all about integrating people and places into a collective experience and if I can make use of and connect to things that actually exist in the real world, this can be a very mutually beneficial situation.

I am extremely wary of anything I do turning into an overtly educational or ‘functional’ piece as my goals are obviously to create new artwork first and foremost.  I’ll need to be really careful as to how these connections to exhibits are communicated or else I won’t be helping my cause! I have a hard enough time already telling people time and time again “no, this isn’t an audio tour!!”, but typically as soon as someone starts to experience my work, they realize it is way too random to be intended as primarily educational which will hopefully enable them to get a bit lost and let the audio help them explore.

It’s never really about paying attention for me.  It’s much more about letting things wash over you and through you and letting your brain make all those unconscious choices that brains make to bring certain things to the forefront and let other things fade away.

I am back. Back in DC at the Archives of American Art for the final month of my SARF fellowship. I am very excited to continue my research and hopefully get closer to an actual exhibit here at SI in the future.  I have had meetings with curators and archivists from the Hirshhorn, National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of African Art and am continuing to meet new interesting people and uncover more and more pockets of audio recordings of artist voices which is very exciting.

I am still very much not looking forward to getting legal clearance to use all of the recordings I want to use, but it seems as though this is going to be unavoidable.  Thankfully, there are some SI museums that have gone to the trouble to put their audio and video assets up online, so their public availability makes things simpler, but other museums don’t even have their archives digitized, so that’s another challenge altogether.

This new approach of using voices recorded by other people for different purposes is very interesting as it opens up so many more possibilities for my work, but I wish I had an intern/assistant/lawyer to help!  Maybe some day?

OK, back to culling through the 306 audio recordings available in the Hirshhorn archives…

Monday was a long day in the car driving non-stop from Boston to DC.  Unfortunately, it is not a very pretty drive down the northeast corridor, especially at this time of year.  The biggest and most painful stretch is on the new Jersey Turnpike.  At least they have it all EZPass activated or I really would have gone nuts!

New Jersey Turnpike

the glorious NJT

As soon as you get past Philly, and pass into Delaware, the end is near.

Delaware Memorial Bridge

the glorious DMB

I knew I would hit some rush hour somewhere along the route, but I did not expect this:

snow

beltway snow

Yes, those are snowflakes in my headlights! We’ve gotten basically no snow all season in Boston and I drive to DC in hopes of avoiding some of winter only to be met by so much snow that flights out of Dulles were cancelled. Granted it only takes an inch for this to happen down here…

I was able to listen to a bunch of RadioLab podcasts which were very interesting and did wonders for passing the monotony en route. I never am able to remember all the details, but the show they did on memory (ha ha) was fascinating. I knew that memories were malleable things and consequently not very reliable, but I was amazed to learn that apparently not only do they change over time, but the rate of change and/or degradation from the truth is directly proportional to the number of times that a particular memory is accessed. Kind of like analog tape where the more times you play your Pink Floyd cassettes, the more they wear down and sound worse.

This is totally counter-intuitive to me because you would think that the memories you access a lot have less of a chance to stagnate and be forgotten. But apparently this is incorrect because the current thinking is that each time a memory is accessed, it is actually re-created. In other words, the neurons re-form and re-make the memory, erasing the original and replacing it with the new version. So this erasing and replacing process provides an opportunity for change and there is no permanently “saved” version that we can refer back to. No online backup (yet). The most “pure”, or perhaps accurate, memories are the ones the least frequently recalled, so an amnesiac has the best memory.  Talk about counter-intuitive!

Today is my last day of my first stint here in DC. I’ve got mixed feelings. I’m very happy to be going home to sleep in my own bed again(!), but I’ve had a wonderful time down here and I want to make sure the momentum I’ve been able to generate does not dissipate.

Truthfully, I’m not too worried about that as the connections I’ve made will still be accessible, and am feeling glad that I have broken my fellowship up into two sections. This first month has been all about getting my bearings straight, meeting different people, doing some initial listening to archives and basically absorbing as much as possible in this short period of time. But as I start to clarify my research a bit more on potential future projects, I imagine I’ll be able to spend my next month here in a more focussed way. It’ll be good to take a step back and really think about what might be possible and how things can move ahead so that I can prepare for my second trip and hit the ground running, as they say.

Before I got down here, I had all these romantic ideas about searching around in some long-lost, secret, vaulted-ceiling basement space and coming across ancient audio recordings on some unheard of format, dusting them off, literally, and finding them infinitely inspiring for a new piece. Of course this sounds ridiculous, but I can’t help it!

Clearly the more practical side of me knew this wasn’t actually going to be the case, but that was the level of inexperience/ignorance with which I arrived here at SI. But I like ignorance; and have been pretty adept at it in some past projects. I am much less ignorant of many things SI now (mainly the acronyms), but taking the broad and un-focussed initial pass at my research is already proving to be beneficial.

I have this FREE TACO card here on my desk…expires before I return and I’m getting Thai food today…who wants it?

this one is even bigger than ‘cat-sized’…

Audio MP3

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On this past Saturday, I ran a workshop at ArtLab+, which is a very impressive teen design center affiliated with the Hirshhorn Museum at Smithsonian.  It’s located right next to the Hirshhorn’s sculpture garden and is a place I would have died to have access to when I was a teen.  It’s a big bright space and is equipped with just about every type of digital equipment one might need to experiment with audio, video, and other visual types of art and design.  Mac Books, iPhones, iMacs, sound studio with much of what I use at home in my studio, huge flat screens with every gaming console imaginable plugged in.  And it’s free to teens.

They contacted me a while ago about doing a workshop related to the ‘soundscapes’ I create with my work and I thought it sounded like fun to put something together where teens could create their own soundscape collectively with music and voices over the course of an afternoon.  Roundware is perfectly capable of allowing this to happen, but this workshop was a challenge for me because it forced me to make some tweaks to the system and think more about how RW can be more easily deployed by people who have no prior exposure to the technology.

The workshop was a success for the participants for sure and they created a cool soundscape in the garden, but it also gave me added impetus to build out the accessibility aspects of Roundware.  There is a big difference between a software platform that can be used effectively by its developers vs. a software platform that can be easily learned and used by people who know nothing about it ahead of time.  Things like better web interfaces, more exposure of design parameters and visual methods of setting up and configuring RW for a particular soundscape installation are all desperately needed, but I can’t really make a huge dent in this without funding.

I’m hoping that because we have made Roundware open source and are starting to use it for more projects beyond my own audio installations that support to build it out further will continue to come in.  Smithsonian is already making a large investment in supporting my team in building iOS and Android libraries, and I have been getting interest from a bunch of other groups at SI who want to use RW, so I have high hopes that collectively, these interested parties can fund developments that will benefit them all, me, and everyone else.  It sounds a bit ridiculously utopian, but this is the amazing aspect of open-source, community developed software.

ArtLab+ Soundscapes workshop participants

The workshop was a really exciting way to get more of a glimpse of how RW could be used as an educational tool.  The teens we had participating really enjoyed themselves and I think we even tricked them into learning some stuff without them realizing!  They got experience with GarageBand to create some music and then spent a lot of time outside in the sculpture garden looking at and talking about the sculptures.  Sure, there was limited informed intellectual discussion about the works of art, but to me that type of looking and thinking is over-rated.  They used their imaginations to make the sculptures relevant to them personally and really opened their eyes in ways that I don’t think they normally do.  I may be making lots of assumptions about what they actually experienced, but the picture looks like they were having fun, so I’m going with it.

Here’s a short video the folks at ArtLab+ put together:

Being here at SI and talking to so many interesting museum/education people about their goals has solidified my beliefs that Roundware will primarily be an educational tool, not an artistic tool.  Of course, it can and will do both, but the ‘market’ for educational purposes is vastly larger and that is likely where development funding will originate, so the platform will probably become a bit more streamlined for these sorts of uses.  This actually makes me really excited.  Education is so important to the survival of this planet and if there is something I can do – however initially inadvertent – to help those who have devoted their lives to this, I will feel proud.

My reserved parking space and industrial-size cool down device…

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I’m starting to realize that my research here at Smithsonian is as much about learning about/from the people who are working here in the various museums then it is about studying the audio archives.  This place is so big and there are so many vastly disparate projects that people here are working on, I find it really inspiring.  I have always found the the multi-disciplinary approach has worked best for me and having the opportunity to have access to so many disciplines in one concentrated place is really cool.

Earlier this week I met with an ethnographer at the National Museum of Natural History and just today I hung out with the “Mobile Learning Program Lead” at the National Postal Museum.  I didn’t even know there was a Postal Museum.  But now I do and it turns out to be a really cool place if you are over 80 and collect stamps.  Ha ha ha…this is what I expected, but I was pretty far off; the museum is totally fascinating as it dives into the history of the Postal Service in relation to the history of the country.  It’s also really amazing how much innovation the Postal Service contributed through developing new ways to collect mailbags via airplane without landing to building machinery to read and sort billions of pieces of mail to starting to use ethanol-fueled vehicles in the 1980s way before anyone else cared at all about minimizing fossil fuel use.  And apparently that whole only-take-right-hand-turns thing to maximize your driving efficiency was pioneered by the Postal Service as well.

My fourth week here is winding down and as I reflect, I realize how valuable these interactions have been for me and how they will likely continue to be so in the years ahead.  I have gone in and out of feeling like I had not yet done enough actual listening to audio from the various archives, but I think that’s still a step away in any directed and significant way.  For now, I’m just going to keep heading in the direction that’s feeling right.

The amazing thing about this artist research fellowship is that it really is research focused.  It is intended as very early-stage support for free experimentation rather than support for the actual creation of new work that will be put on exhibit.  Not having that impending deadline is really liberating and is allowing me the chance to cast the net very wide at this point.  You’d think that this is the way artists always approach things – with a lot of experimentation and freedom – but my experience has been that all too often by the time any institution has agreed to let you actually create something that they will exhibit, it’s more about getting it done as proposed rather than truly experimenting.

So this is all great, but the down side is that there is no guarantee of any sort that any of the research I do now will lead to an exhibit at SI or anywhere else.  I’m pretty confident it will at least indirectly have a significant influence in the direction of my future work, but of course, I would love to have the results of my research directly turn into an exhibit somewhere, hopefully here at Smithsonian.

I’ve been talking to one of the curators involved in the SARF selection process about potential projects.  Apparently during the selection process, my work in general – and proposal specifically – got people thinking about a pan-art-museum audio project of some sort which could bring together the 7 art musuems that are a part of Smithsonian in some interesting way using selections from across all of their audio archives.  I’ve been thinking about this idea and as I listen to more and more from the archives, the more exciting this possibility becomes.

To me, the most interesting aspect of this idea is chronology; these recordings were made varying numbers of years ago during times that were no doubt quite different from the present which is when all the recordings I’ve used in my work prior to this have come from.  I’ve been listening to a bunch of older recordings and they have such an interesting sound to them due to the recording techniques and devices available at the time as well as the fact that society and culture continuously evolve, so it just sounds like it’s from another era.  People speak so differently now then they did in the past.  I’m not sure if this is because being recorded was more of a special occasion which led to people speaking differently than they normally would, or if people simply have changed the nuances of their communication, but it’s a really interesting difference.

I’m still tossing around various ideas in my head about this potential project, but arranging voices of artists chronologically, talking about their work, and then allowing present-day participants to add their own commentary about what they were perhaps doing in the years that the recordings were made is intriguing to me.  Or maybe I ask people to compare aspects of the archival content to stuff in their lives in the present-day?  I don’t know, I’m experimenting out loud!

Though I would have liked to show more solidarity with Native Americans everywhere – including approximately 12.5% of my wife (who is in town…yay!) – by visiting NMAI, I instead travelled west of the city to Chantilly to celebrate my Columbus Day at the Udvar-Hazy Center. I was told it’s like a huge room of model airplanes all suspended in action poses ready for battle, with one significant difference: they are not models. They are all real and they were all up in the air, wires-unattached, pilots aboard and under their own power, at some point in each of their pasts.

So needless to say, I reverted to a time when I had no job and could just run around and explore and do whatever I wanted (hold it…hmmmm!?!?). I don’t really know exactly what it is about things that have propellers and jets and blast off, but I guess they capture the spirit of innovation and discovery really well. It’s just exciting to see how mankind developed these amazing technologies and to see a chronology of our discoveries and accomplishments in this area. Simply getting us off the ground seems like a minor miracle in any regard but to see the extent to which this has become possible over a relatively short period of time, it’s really mind-blowing. It definitely made me feel conflicted about NASA’s current diminished state.

We saw the stealth bomber, the Space Shuttle Enterprise, saw an IMAX about the new Boeing 787 and went in a flight simulator (three barrel rolls…woohoo!) and a whole lot more all under one very impressive roof.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my advisors works at the Air and Space Museum, so technically this was research(!). I am very excited to dive into more of their audio archives once their move is completed as I think this era of discovery could provide some great material for a piece.

If you are ever in the area, go there for an entire day. You will not be disappointed!

I had a meeting with one of my advisors yesterday who is the archivist at the Smithsonian Folklife Collections. This was another exploratory mission to try to get a handle on what is available in another one of the audio collections at SI. It did me absolutely no good with regards to my prevalent feelings of overwhelm.

After letting me know that they record over 1200 hours of audio each and every year and have done that for the past 45 years or so, I got a tour of the room where all this stuff is kept. It was large and filled with shelf upon shelf upon cabinet upon rack of every format imaginable of audio recordings. They had everything from original aluminum master discs that were literally carved in real time while a performance was happening, to cassette tapes by the thousands. And rows upon rows of 1/4″ magnetic tape, neatly aligned chronologically or otherwise in labeled boxes (I learned to stay away from the early 80’s reels as the “tape was bad” in those years…something to do with shoddy manufacturing). My advisor knew where everything was; he’s been doing this for a while.

So what’s on the tapes? Lots of historical music stuff to begin with. That’s all great, but not really what I’m interested in. They have 40,000 tracks of ‘sounds from the 20th century’ as recorded by the original Folkways record label, including such herpetological hits as “Sounds of North American Frogs” by “Various Artists”. Apparently they even have the outtakes from these recording sessions which are probably pretty entertaining (“stop…cut!! you have to wait at least three seconds between each of your croaks!!”).

And then they have 45 years of complete recordings from the Folklife Festival which has been bringing together amazing people, cultures, activities, sessions on various folk-related (broadly interpreted) themes annually on the National Mall since the late 60s. These are of particular interest to me, but I’ll save those discussions for another day because I need to leave the office…now!

There’s a lot of security in DC. I think at least 10% of the jobs in this town are security-related, if not more, and I guess it makes sense. They’ve got all these cool security accoutrements in buildings that we don’t see in Boston at all.

I’ve been having a good time with the view from my office because I get to see some serious security in action. My office is on the second floor and there is an alleyway between my building and the nondescript one next door. So I’ve been watching because we artist-types don’t really do any work, we just sit around and stare off into space (or alleyways). In any case, there is a loading dock in the alleyway and every time any vehicle wants to get in, there is an intricate process.

First, there’s always a guy in a suit pacing around the entrance to the alleyway. He’s got the requisite ear-piece with the curly wire going down the back of his neck and looks pretty focussed and efficient (and a bit intimidating). So he stops the vehicle in the road. Then another guy in SWAT-looking gear gets out of a white minivan (yeah, that part isn’t so threatening, though the plates do clearly state DHS) followed by a very professional looking german shepherd. They walk around the vehicle together and nothing happens. I assume that if there were any whiffs of explosives, the dog would go wild and things would get very exciting very quickly. But as it has been happening, it just looks like the guy is taking his dog on a very short walk. They get back into the van in their reserved parking spot and then the weird noises start happening.

The steel gate retracts first and then a series of five of these hydraulically controlled 12-inch diameter bollards space across the entrance sink into the concrete. Those things are super-cool, and they are all over the place in DC. I guess they will stand up to being rammed, but can be really quickly moved up and down. It seems as though the guy in the suit controls them with a remote control. I have this nearly irresistible urge to stand on top of one and ask to be lifted up and down, but somehow I think that might not fall into protocol.

In any case, the alleyway is now open for the truck or whatever to back into the loading dock and unload cargo that I can only imagine. Of course, all delivery trucks are totally un-marked.

My very nice friends – who clearly care a lot about me – have repeatedly suggested that I take lots of pictures and even video to send to them from my official government-controlled internet connection. As much as I want to, I think it might not end up well for me…

So I feel safe here, mainly due to the dog. I think I’m in a good spot as long as I don’t write anything on my blog about the inner-workings of the security of a building that I suspect may belong to an uber-stealthy division of the US Government in charge of some pretty important things (and people).

I’ve always had to worry a bit about the law when it comes to my work. I use material – spoken voice recordings – contributed by other people which can lead to all sorts of ownership and copyright issues. Of course, I understand that I cannot go making recordings of people and use them however I want without their permission, so I think quite a lot about how best to approach this issue.

One thing is for sure and that is that nothing ruins spontaneous and engaged participation as quickly and thoroughly as a lengthy dose of legalese (sorry, lawyers!). It is always a challenge to get people to participate in my projects at all and I found that slapping them with an additional step of reading and signing some godawful legal agreement was pretty much a killer. So I’ve never really done this, but have at the same time wanted to be very clear with my participants how their recordings could be used as well as provide a modicum of legal protection for unanticipated but possible future legal issues.

My primary methods thus far have been:

- for smartphone apps, use a simple popup dialogue that participants use to opt-in before making a recording
– for interviews and in-person BYOV events, I have people read a short statement out loud saying that I can use the recordings and I record that before starting the interview.

I try to avoid paper and signatures as they always instantly formalize things which is not what I’m looking to do in my work. These approaches have worked pretty well in the past and I think the fact that I am not getting rich off of anything helps dissuade people from suing me as well!

But all this applies when I am explicitly collecting voices directly from the source/mouth rather than collecting from material that was recorded in the past for other purposes. So needless to say, I am embarking on a new battle of legal discovery here at Smithsonian.

It seems as though most researchers who want access to the SI audio archives do not want the actual voices. They want the words and they want the meaning and they want the historical context, but they don’t want/need the voices themselves in recorded form. So when I ask the question about what I am allowed to do with the actual voice recordings and how I am allowed to use them in my own work, all of a sudden no one seems to really know the answer.

The Smithsonian is a public institution supported by the government, but this does not mean that the archives are freely accessible to be used for any purpose by anyone. I was hoping my SARF credentials would give me some sort of magic key to be able to use anything I wanted as I pleased, but not surprisingly, this is definitely not true. So in order to avoid wasting lots of time listening to material that I am not ultimately allowed to make use of and more importantly to avoid falling in love with material I can’t use(!), my first task, it seems, is to attempt to figure out how to determine for sure what is open for my use and what is not. This seems like a simple question, but given the long period over which these recordings have been collected and the diverse number of groups/people who have done the collecting, this is not going to be an easy task.

That’s about all of this I can handle for now, but I have more meetings set up next week that may or may not shed more light on this issue. Will report back!

——–

PS – my dad is a (non-practicing) lawyer as are some of my good friends! I swear I am not anti-lawyer so much as feeling certain parts of the legal system could use an overhaul.

In the past, I have always gathered my voices by interviewing people directly or creating some sort of framework within which they could participate. So all the voices I have used in the past have been ones collected explicitly for my work and therefore tend to be related to the topics that I have explored in my work (the ocean, race, the weather etc) and ones that I hope to explore in the future (religion, pets, religious pets…)

But now my approach is almost the reverse. There are huge stores of recorded audio at Smithsonian and I have to seek them out and listen and decide what topics interest me from the source material and then figure out what on earth I want to do with them. So I’m a little confused and honestly flailing around a bit now, but I like that this is forcing me into something different. I think I’ll get used to it soon; getting some more specific ideas will help me focus and that will help me feel like I’m actually doing something(!).

The other complication with using recordings that I did not make myself is a legal one. More on this later…

I’m thinking a lot about what direction I want to go in with my “research”. The Smithsonian, not surprisingly, is HUGE, and is turning out to be even vaster than I had anticipated. Archives exist everywhere you look and sadly there is not always a centralized point of search from which to jump in.

So this all seems a bit overwhelming, especially when I try to explain to the various archivists with whom I meet that I don’t really know exactly what sort of material I am looking for. I know I’m looking for audio recordings, primarily containing spoken voice, but other than that, I am casting the net wide initially for a variety of reasons. I don’t want to get my heart set on something that I think is available only to find out that is isn’t and more importantly to me, I really want to use this experience as a research opportunity in the broadest sense of that word.

Ideally, I will be able to sample a whole bunch of disparate types of recordings from different fields of study, different historical times, different types of people and material collected for a variety of different purposes. Interestingly, I learned that many recordings SI has made in the past were made exclusively for the transcript as the final product. In other words, they did not really care about the audio recording itself as long as it was good enough for someone to transcribe. This approach led to things like Isamu Noguchi’s dog barking throughout his interview, which I think is pretty cool, but others may not(!) I guess this made sense in the past, but I’m very glad they didn’t throw all the original recordings out.

So needless to say, asking for a “random sampling” of audio recordings from a particular archive is not the typical request that folks here get, but they have all been very open-minded and encouraging, so I’m excited. I’m starting out with some from the Archives of American Art and got to know Wolf Kahn from the 70’s a bit earlier today who said, among many other interesting things:

“We start things; we don’t try to finish anything.”

Nice!

I arrived in DC on Monday after a long drive from Boston and am working on getting my bearings straight. It is amazing to be here, but there is no doubt it is a significant change for me. No more rolling out of bed and into the studio for the day. I now actually have an office – a corner office, no less! – and I have been joking about my new “job”.

That’s not entirely a joke, of course, since I am down here for a specific purpose (link to pdf of my proposal?), but I doubt that it will really feel like a job, or at least not like any of the jobs I have had in the past. The similarities will likely stop at the fancy office building, the supply room and the long easily-confused hallways.

I am being housed in the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian as one of my fellowship advisors is located here and a significant chunk of the oral history archives at SI are housed here. And those, not surprisingly, are what I am interested in.

My first task is going to be to try to figure out what oral history archives exist in the entire Smithsonian and then figure out how to access them. I started this task today with a visit to Mark Taylor, the moving picture archivist at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM). I got a tour of that building, which was pretty amazing, and then Mark told me about the archives that they have.

Sadly, it seems that the majority of their audio archives are on open reel 7″ format and they do not have the ability to play such media at this point. So either I need to find a player or those are off limits. But they do have a bunch of historical interviews, conference recordings and documentary soundtracks all of which are somehow related to “things that blast off or have propellers”, both of which are pretty cool in my book.

I am very excited about some of the film/video material they have as well. Much of it does not include audio, unfortunately, but some does, including some really interesting sounding documentaries/infomercials on things like how your missionary activities could be enhanced by owning a new Cessna and what to do if your single jet engine exhaust system overheats (usually, it’s best to “nose up and eject”).

I learned that the big caveat with all this material is that it is currently not available as the NASM archives are in the middle of a big move. But when I come back in January, they should be all set to go and probably more easily accessed in the new digs.

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