Art in the Outdoors

By: Joshua Tenebaum

This past week I spent a bit of time developing and furthering my blog post project and compiling photographs and field recordings to showcase to the Venture Outdoors community. Liz Fager and Jessica Wiegand both approached me about writing a blog post to be featured on the Venture Outdoors website. I began reading the other posts to determine an appropriate topic and voice for my writing; I decided to write about art and the outdoors. A rather broad topic, I specifically chose to speak about why I make art, my process, and my impressions of nature whenever I venture outdoors. I started collecting brand new field recordings (or audio recordings that are produced outside of a recording studio applicable to natural and human-produced sounds) of soundscapes, chattering wildlife, and human interactions with nature while out on my walks. I use multiple high-powered microphones in addition to a digital sound recorder which captures low-volume, organic frequencies that would otherwise be inaudible or very quiet to the unaided human ear. Camera slung around my neck, I also try to capture simple impressions of the landscape in a way that’s true to both environment and location. Aesthetic of landscape juxtaposed against audio impression leaves room for listener interpretation and imagination to piece together the sum of both audio and visual parts forming a complete dynamic, multi-sensory image in his or her mind. In my blog post, I am including both field recordings and photographs to give the reader a similar experience to what I experience when I’m out on the trail. 

As a kid, I grew up spending much of my time in the outdoors riding bikes, tramping through neighbors’ yards, climbing trees, swimming at the lake, or hiking to the top of Mt. Davis and scrambling around Baughman Rocks. This early love affair with nature shaped my career path and has been a constant reminder of why I love being outside. Nowadays, I spend much of my time outside making art and documenting what I come across in the field both visual and audible – far from the traditional “outdoorsman.” Most of the time, with both camera and sound recorder in tow, documenting and capturing the field is one of my favorite outdoor activities. In this blog post I will discuss the art I enjoy creating while spending time in the outdoors. 

Sunset over the South Park trails; photograph by Joshua Tenenbaum 

Insects from the South Park Trails; field recording by Joshua Tenebaum

When I’m on a trail with my field recorder and camera, I feel like I’m just as much a part of the environment as the wildlife and anomalies that I am seeking to capture. The way I walk (or stalk), how my microphones are arranged, my location and duration of stay, and purpose or intent all play a large part into the quality and content of my recordings for that day. There are days when I’ll leave the microphones recording and walk far away for a period of time in order to let the sounds of the natural environment come to life without my interference or even presence. It’s only later when I return to the recording at home that I find what I have captured. 

Pond at Montour Woods Conservation Area; photograph by Joshua Tenenbaum 

Amphibians at Montour Woods; field recording by Joshua Tenebaum 

The reason sound and photograph are so interesting to me is that these media retell the story of the environment to people who may otherwise not have the opportunity or physical ability to go outdoors and enjoy everything that nature has to offer. Oftentimes you can hear and see the wonders of nature from your own backyard. The next field recording was taken from my backyard – the sound of motors, wind, and a variety of close and distant birds creates space and dynamics for which the listener can recreate the environment within their heads.  

American Goldfinch in backyard tree; photograph by Joshua Tenenbaum

Backyard Bird Calling and Motors; field recording by Joshua Tenebaum

Creating abstract pieces that leave the listener or observer to their own imaginations is far more powerful than trying to reiterate emotion or image through words. 

A favorite field of mine to record at; photograph by Joshua Tenenbaum

 

American Robin; photograph by Joshua Tenenbaum

View of the reservoir at the top of Oakland; photograph by Joshua Tenenbaum

 

Object manipulations; field recordings by Joshua Tenenbaum 

 

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OUTDOOR News

  • Why Venture Outdoors?

    August 15, 2017

    By: Jacob Tumminello

    For many of us, the most time we spend outdoors comes from transitioning between cars and buildings, if that even counts.  As we continue to develop new technological advancements to make our lives easier, we have slowly begun to remove ourselves from the outdoor environment to shift towards safer and less demanding settings. 

    We as a species are less challenged to obtain food which is now carried by large machines to our destinations, and we spend most of our time sitting or sedentary.  Millions of people are damaging their eyes and backs sitting in front of computer screens for hours each day,

     » Read more about: Why Venture Outdoors?  »

  • My First Backpacking Trip with Venture Outdoors

    August 8, 2017

    By: Joshua Tenenbaum

    My backpacking trip to Raccoon State Park was a remarkable experience that I won’t soon forget. Going to the outfitter to select backpacking and camping gear and having the opportunity to use it on the trail was very gratifying. I had a ton of fun packing my bag, trying to distribute weight evenly in my pack, and organizing all my gear and food in the pack (although, it took me multiple tries to get everything to fit).

    Early in the morning, we dusted off our gear and headed out to experience the beauty of Raccoon Creek State Park.

     » Read more about: My First Backpacking Trip with Venture Outdoors  »

  • Where is She Now

    August 1, 2017

    By: Grace Eggleston, Former Communications/ Photography Intern

    This past April, my fantastic internship with Venture Outdoors came to an end. After finishing up my junior year at Pitt, I packed the car and drove down to Washington DC to start my next adventure… as a Communications Intern at the World Wildlife Fund US Headquarters!

    I’m now halfway through my internship, and absolutely loving it! As a Communications Intern on the Science Team at WWF, I have a handful of different jobs. I help out with social media, create flyers for events, and contact WWF grantees for information on their conservation projects.

     » Read more about: Where is She Now  »

  • The Beauty of Hiking

    July 25, 2017

    By: Chloe Seletz, Communications Intern 

    When I am asked what my dream vacation would be, it is always a no brainer. Anywhere I can go hiking. I spent a portion of my childhood living in San Francisco which is where I discovered the beauty of hiking. Every Sunday, my family and I took advantage of the amazing trails California has to offer. Even at a young age, I remember the feeling of getting to the top of a mountain and seeing such mesmerizing views.

    Over the years, I have had the opportunity to travel and hike in many different places.

     » Read more about: The Beauty of Hiking  »

  • Art in the Outdoors

    July 18, 2017

    By: Joshua Tenebaum

    This past week I spent a bit of time developing and furthering my blog post project and compiling photographs and field recordings to showcase to the Venture Outdoors community. Liz Fager and Jessica Wiegand both approached me about writing a blog post to be featured on the Venture Outdoors website. I began reading the other posts to determine an appropriate topic and voice for my writing; I decided to write about art and the outdoors. A rather broad topic, I specifically chose to speak about why I make art, my process, and my impressions of nature whenever I venture outdoors.

     » Read more about: Art in the Outdoors  »

Featured Outing

Beginner Paddle – North Shore
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6:00 – 8:30 PM

We’ll start with instruction and practice, and then head onto the Allegheny River to see just how easy it is to paddle. Bedazzled by the gorgeous Pittsburgh skyline, you won’t even realize that you’re suddenly paddling like a pro! Equipment, guides and instruction are provided. Solo kayaks are highly recommended for this outing.


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