Back in the days before Facebook…
Boy does that sound old!
But it’s true – there was a time when there were no social networks as such, and we roamed freely through the web, looking for new treasures, for people to meet, for information to trade.
Most of us ad websites, some were beginning to dabble with blogs.
The opportunity, the thrill, and the risk of travel is being present to the world. My goal with Quiet American is to sketch in sound the experience of being in an unfamiliar place.
There are two main repositories of sounds, on the website.
One is called Field Recordings, and provides an ample sample of environmental sounds collected by the Quiet American as he traveled the world.
Then there is the One Minute Vacations, sound-bites contributed buy the community.
And here, variety – in terms of subject, location and color – is incredible.
Anything, from tube stations to folk festivals, is here, in handy, one-minute sound snapshots.
It was a pleasure, going back to the Quiet American pages and seeing that – while the project appears to be on hiatus – the sounds are still there.
I don’t need to explain what kind of resource this is for a writer.
But there’s more.
There is a pleasure, in digging in the collections, in exploring the virtual shelves of this website, that’s closely connected with the pleasure of exploration, of travel.
It really amounts to traveling without moving.
Then, we have a number of choices – we can just sit in the dark and listen to the sounds, letting our imagination do its part, or we can leave the sounds in the background and search the web for matching images, for maps, for texts, to complement the experience.
Both ways, the collection of sounds set up by the Quiet American is a treasure trove, a place to go back to, again and again.
Minimalist and maybe off-putting to some, The Quiet American is not a “friendly” website – you need to put work in finding out what you are looking for – but the reward is well worth the effort.
You’ll need to use your headphones.