This post is also available in: French
I acknowledge that I live and work in the unceded and unsurrendered Territory of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation, whose presence in the Ottawa region reaches back to time immemorial. This acknowledgement is also a commitment.
what is the conscient podcast ?
The conscient podcast is a series of conversations, monologues and creations about art and the ecological crisis.
This podcast is bilingual (in either English or French). Episode notes are translated.
I started the conscient project in 2020 as a personal learning journey and knowledge sharing exercise. It has been rewarding, and sometimes surprising.
The term ‘conscient’ is defined as ‘being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts and motivations’. My touchstone for the podcast is episode 1, e01 terrified, based on an essay I wrote in May 2019, where I share my anxiety about the climate crisis and my belief that arts and culture can play a critical role in raising public awareness about environmental issues. The conscient podcast follows up on my http://simplesoundscapes.ca (2016–2019) project: 175, 3-minute audio and video field recordings that explore mindful listening.
Season 1 (May – October 2020) explored how the arts contribute to environmental awareness and action. I produced 3 episodes in French and 15 in English. The episodes cover a wide range of content, including activism, impact measurement, gaming, arts funding, cross-sectoral collaborations, social justice, artistic practices, etc. Episodes 8 to 17 were recorded while I was at the Creative Climate Leadership USA course in Arizona in March 2020 (led by Julie’s Bicycle). Episode 18 is a compilation of highlights from these conversations.
Season 2 (March – August 2021 ) explored the concept of reality and was about accepting reality, working through ecological grief and charting a path forward. The first episode of season 2 (e19 reality) mixes quotations from 28 authors with field recordings from simplesoundscapes and from my 1998 soundscape composition, Au dernier vivant les biens. One of my findings from this episode is that ‘I now see, and more importantly, I now feel in my bones, ‘the state of things as they actually exist’, without social filters or unsustainable stories blocking the way’. e19 reality touches upon 7 topics: our perception of reality, the possibility of human extinction, ecological anxiety and ecological grief, hope, arts, storytelling and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. The rest of season 2 featured 41 interviews with thought leaders about their responses and reactions to e19 reality.
Season 3 (October 2021 – February 2022 ) was about radical listening : listening deeply without passing judgment, knowing the truth and filtering out the noise and opening attention to reality and responding to what needs to be done. The format is similar the first podcast format I did in 2016 with the simplesoundscapes project, which was to ‘speak my mind’ and ‘think out loud’. Season 3 was a series of unscripted and unedited monologues (except for the occasional insert of quotes and soundscape compositions and some short conversations). This work was guided by intuition (as opposed to intellect) and with a lightness of touch (shorter, more fun). I decided to start season 3 with a ‘soundscape composition’, like I did in season 1 and 2. Season 3’s composition is e63 a case study (part 1) and e64 a case study (part 2). It’s bilingual speculative fiction radio play, set in an undergraduate university history seminar course called ‘History of 2021 in Canada’. It concluded with a soundscape composition ‘Winter Diary Revisited’. Note: After season 3 (October 2021 – February 2022), I took a pause to do the exercises in the this book : https://decolonialfutures.net/hospicingmodernity/ and don’t how or when I will continue the podcast.
Season 4 (in development – to be published as of January 2023) will be informed by my recent research on decolonization, demodernization and imminent social collapse, explores what colonial modernity sounds like, how it affects us and how to ‘create the conditions for other possible worlds to emerge in the wake of what is dying’ as suggested in Preparing for the end of the world as we know it. In other words, ‘staying with the trouble’ (Donna Haraway) by mindfully combining the art of listening with the act of knowing. I invite you to join me on this learning/unlearning journey and to share your responses and experiences. Each episode calls upon 5 minutes in your life and will include a listening exercise. A new episode will be available weekly, on Sundays, from January 1 through December 31, 2023, in English and in French. Once a month I will also publish a conversation with guests about their responses to the episodes. This season is intended for those who are ready to listen to content. As a result, I believe that word of mouth is the best way to disseminate this work. If you like what you hear, and you think others might benefit from it, please share it, one to one or through your networks. I want to acknowledge the influence on my learnings/ unlearning from the Gesturing Towards Decolonized Futurescollective and the Facing Human Wrongs course. Based on these teachings, I recognize the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of this process of engagement with modernity, which can include strong and uncomfortable tensions, paradoxes and contradictions. I want to avoid turning this work into ‘creativity ready for co-optation, consumption and reproduction of the status quo’ as noted in Hospicing Modernity (p. 240). To mitigate and to make new mistakes from these pitfalls, I commit to walking the tightrope between desperate hope and hopelessness with honesty, humility, humour and hyper-reflexivity and to be guided and calibrated by the values of sobriety, maturity, discernment and accountability while remaining grounded, as best I can, in relations of trust, respect, reciprocity and consent. As I fail forward, I will keep in mind this quote from the GTDF collective:
‘We are part of a much wider metabolism, and this metabolism is sick. There is a lot of shit for us to deal with: personal, collective, historical, systemic. Our fragilities are a big part of it. This shit needs to pass, so that it can be composted into new forms of life, no longer based on the illusion of separability’
Note: Each episode will identify and give credit the specific sound sources and influencers of my research.
I’ve been retired from the Canada Council for the Arts since September 15, 2020 where I served as a senior strategic advisor in arts granting (2016-2020) and manager of the Inter-Arts Office (1999-2015). See https://www.claudeschryer.ca/ for details on my current areas of interest for contract work (advising, speaking and creating).
acknowledgement of eco-responsibility
I acknowledge that the production of the conscient podcast produces carbon. I try to minimize this carbon footprint by being as efficient as possible, including using GreenGeeks as my web server and acquiring carbon offsets for my equipment and travel activities from BullFrog Power and Less. i monitor my carbon footprint through https://www.cgtoolscanada.org/.
a word about privilege and bias
While recording episode 19 ‘reality’, I heard elements of ‘privilege’ in my voice that I had not noticed before. It sounded a bit like ‘ecological mansplaining’. I realize that, in spite of good intentions, I need to work my way through issues of privilege (of all kinds) and unconscious bias the way I did through ecological anxiety and grief during the fall of 2020. My re-education is ongoing and is being supported by my learning and unlearnings with Gesturing Towards Decolonized Futures.
my commitment to safe working conditions
I am committed to safe working conditions in the production of this podcast, including respectful and transparent working relations with my collaborators and providing due credit and financial compensation as appropriate.
This web site was developed in collaboration with Ayesha Barmania : https://www.ayeshabarmania.com/