civil twilight ends - 365 project begins

"Civil twilight ends." I found that phrase when I was looking up the exact time of the sunset today, summer solstice.

Sunset: 9:34 p.m.
Civil twilight ends: 10:14 p.m. (Which was just a few minutes ago.)

Rich combination of words, that is.

I’ve begun my project of recording one minute of sound every day for a year. I kept it simple, just sat in my yard with my dorky (and wonderful!) headphones on and pushed the record button, capturing the sounds between 9:33 p.m. and 9:34 p.m. — the last minute of the longest day of the year. Unintentionally, I had chosen to record next to the Jack Vasquez Memorial Garden, the garden I made in honor of my beloved dog Jack, who passed away last summer. One of my cats, Michi, was watching me through the window, and got impatient with me just sitting there. He let out one of his impressively loud meowly phrases, making me laugh. (Quietly.) Here’s what it sounds like.

This project started small in my mind. I just wanted to invite myself to tune into my ears for one minute a day. To really listen. Recording helps me do that. Then it got big (a community-wide listening project? a community-wide photography project to go with it? a traveling exhibit of Missoula found sound and amateur photography?). Now it’s pretty small again, which feels good. At the moment, the only participants are Lulu Steinberg and me. I’m going to record a minute of sound a day, she’s going to take a picture a day. And she says she wants to think of her part in it as experimental — she’s not sure what her commitment level is quite yet. Which is fine.

So here’s what I know for sure: my intention is to record one minute of sound, every day, for one year, starting today and ending on solstice eve next year. I’m going to try to integrate this minute of listening into my daily life fairly naturally — rather than seeking out fascinating sounds every day, I’m going to just try to stay alert, keep my gear with me, and hit the record button when something captures my ear. And I’m going to share the results with you.

And here’s what I don’t know:

1) What should I call this project? Right now Lulu and I are going with “Stop. Look. Listen." What do you think?

2) Will I burn out? Will I love it so much I won’t want to stop? Will I want to record more each day? Less?

3) Will anyone else find this interesting? Will I?

Fun to discover on SoundCloud that someone named Josh in the UK is doing almost the exact same thing. He started on January 1.

And fun to feel how even just this one minute I spent today, listening to a pretty blase set of end-of-day sounds, enlivened my ears. I wandered around my neighborhood after I recorded, sans gear, but still feeling like I had gigantic satellite dishes for ears, picking up all this rich mixture of sound. It’s so relaxing, somehow, to be so receptive.

Me thinks this project will be good for me.

Now if it only had a for-sure name….