blog – august 2023

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I published 5 episodes in July including e127 halfway, a 57’ program for framework radio that will also be broadcast on the framework radio network in October of this year. I was also busy preparing for my upcoming residency at Daimon media arts centre for the Radio-Hull radio festival in September and recorded the last episode of the season, e153 full circle. 

Note: Two geese illustration by Sabrina Mathews

July 11, 2023

Caroline Bied on LinkedIn about e128 revisited –  what does decolonized listening sound like to you?

Good question. I can’t think of an answer yet. I liked your humility in recognizing that your 1996 composition perpetuates the exploitation brought about by colonization. It’s the very first step towards decolonizing our worldview. I love the word “decolonize”. It evokes a conscious and active process of deconstruction. It also reflects the inner process I’ve undertaken, which takes time and effort, courage and perseverance. Once a brick is removed, there are other bricks underneath.

My response : 

Yes, there is a process of ‘debricking’ underway. Dr. Vanessa Andreotti and Elwood Jimmy use the metaphor ‘Bricks and Threads’ in Towards Braiding, a publication that explores the collaboration between various modes of relational engagement with indigenous and non-indigenous artists, researchers and communities that has become a reference point for me in my own ‘decolonization’. 

I was reading British writer Jeremy Lent today, in his book The Web of Meaning, who talks about indigenous cultures, from Australia to North America and elsewhere, have long-established practices for ‘healing nature’: using human understandings to work with nature rather than subdue it – often referred to as ‘traditional ecological knowledge’. 

Not only do we have to become very humble, but also very radical, hence the role of the arts in helping us to understand these complex and ‘interwoven’ issues. 

Caroline Bied responded further:

Thank you for illuminating this part of the road. I feel like I’m living in a whirlwind of change, yet I feel very solid and grounded. The sensation is strange and powerful at the same time. Humble and radical, I love the marriage of the two. And relational commitment speaks to me; it’s more about “being” than “doing”, which is more likely to lead to something.

July 17, 2023

Illustration by Sabrina Mathews

Composer and sound artist Tina Pearson

1. We can learn from the listening practices of all living beings.

2. We can listen from knowing that we are part of everything and everything is part of us. We can listen through our breath our bones our feet our hands our skin our joints our organs. We can listen from the perspective of other beings, tiny and vast, simple and complex. We can listen near and far, in time and space. We can push our listening outward and bring it inward. We can allow discomfort and unknowing, we dissolve cultural, political, habitual, limitations in listening to bring new listenings.

3. We just need to listen all the time in many ways, inward, outward, up, down, all around. Listening is like breathing. We need to breathe deeply, fully, inhaling and exhaling to be alive. Sometimes we need to breathe quietly – in sleep, our breath leads our dreams. Sometimes we need to rest our listening, listen inward.

My response:

I’m learning how to breathe through my bones these days – c’est pas évident – there are many blockages (my daily qi gong practice helps). I agree about ‘listening outwards’. It made me think of this quote from my 2019 radio composition Pushing. Hearing. Outwards. inspired by indigenous writer Richard Wagamese’s unfinished novel Starlight, on page 180, where Wagamese writes: ‘she focused on that tiny point of light and pushed her hearing out through it’. 

The discomfort and unknowing that you mention is critical but hard to do. I like Vanessa Andreotti’s saying ‘we need to hold space for the good, the bad, the ugly and the messed up, within and around’ which I mention in my December 2022 blog – sounding modernity

Thankfully, new forms of listening and being are happening all around us. For example, the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE) recently published videos from its 2023 Listening Pasts – Listening Futures conference that explore this, including my presentation where I ask ‘how can listening help?’ 

Listening can help in endless ways, as you suggest, Tina. It is like breathing however we tend not to breathe deeply, nor to listen deeply but we can. We can indeed ‘breathe deeply, fully, inhaling and exhaling to be alive’ as you propose and listen ‘in many ways, inward, outward, up, down, all around.’

July 18, 2023

Radio-Canada à l’écoute 

A group of listeners as part of an The Only Animal event on the Sunshine Coast, BC

I was interviewed by Radio-Canada in Sudbury on the Pas comme d’habitude program on July, 18, World Listening Day : Part 1 and Part 2. Here are some excerpts from my exchange with host Daniel Aubin: 

I love radio for a number of reasons. It’s a medium that’s open to all kinds of possibilities: music, narrative, storytelling, soundscapes and so on. In fact, I’m going to be in residence at the Daimon artist-run centre  in September as part of a radio festival. I’ll be creating new episodes of my podcast in the city of Gatineau, exploring modernity in Gatineau and then making it a radio experience. So someone in a car, on a bike or out for a walk who’s listening can integrate what they hear into their daily life. So it’s an artistic accompaniment, sometimes journalistic too, but for me, it’s a magical medium. I love radio. 

Daniel Aubin: How can we deterritorialize listening practices?:

It’s the idea of detaching ourselves from our attachment to exploitation, to belonging to either a land or an object. For example, when we do a sound recording, there’s a way of having a relationship with the sound instead of simply capturing and owning to the sound and exploiting it. In music, as we often do, this in itself isn’t a bad thing, but the relationship can change. Then when the relationship changes, you can have another relationship with the territory, sonically, visually, et cetera. It can become very interesting.

July 26, 2023

Thoughts on David Maggs’ conversation with Gideon Arthurs

David Maggs is currently the Metcalf Foundation’s inaugural Fellow on Arts and Society and regularly produces dispatches about his research and learning journey. On July 12 he published Art After This with Gideon Arthurs (Executive Director of SoulPepper Theatre) who said : 

Well, if I feel any optimism at all right now, it’s that after the forest fire comes the opportunity for new growth. I actually think there is a real chance for arts organizations to explore that in ways that haven’t been possible before.

I agree.

Gideon goes on to say:

I dream of a world where artists are well-enough taken care of that the work they do can be in service to community, instead of artists whose lives are so precarious that all they can do is tell their own story to their own select group of people. If we had business models that made sense, we could have an environment where artists engage in the deepest desires of our communities rather than the current obsession with the self. Everything is about the self right now. The only story that people can tell is their own.


My dream would be that from 8 am to 11 pm Soulpepper is open, seven days a week, and that at any given hour there’s something happening in this building that you can pop into. And some of it is art of the highest quality with extraordinary artists, and some of it is a clothing swap, a yoga class, or after school drop-off activities, intergenerational projects, or, right now, we’ve got a voting booth downstairs. We’re a polling station. That’s what we should be.

Gideon also comments on how our inner landscapes are being colonized by mega-corporations and that he might be willing to abandon certain definitions of what an arts organization is in order to try and stand in the way of those forces. 

I wrote to David that it’s good to see the arts community come up with new ways to engage audiences and deepen the relevancy of the arts in our lives. 

My concern, with this conversation and the arts sector as a whole, is how the imminent threat of the climate crisis – our environment is literally burning and flooding around us this summer – does not seem to be front of mind in public discourse in the arts, or not enough.

My guess is that the arts sector does feel empowered or ready to engage in radical climate action, in spite of the existence of resources like SCALE-LeSAUT, Creative Green Tools Canada, etc.

This inertia, while understandable (many artists struggle to make a living), is tragic. I think the arts can play a critical role in being of ‘service to community’ as Arthur rightfully notes, but our efforts are best served by addressing the most urgent issues in a concerted way, both through art that present ‘fantastic’ solutions (see It’s positive, not apocalyptic’: can climate change art help save the planet? and direct social and political actions (see CBC Radio Q interview with Peter Garrett).

My hope (prayer?) is that there is a wave of action coming soon as the arts sector recovers from the pandemic and realizes what is at stake. 

Gideon Arthurs rightfully notes that we are facing ‘a real chance for arts organizations to explore that in ways that haven’t been possible before’.

Agreed, but will we seize the day?

I see no point shuffling the deck chairs. We have already hit the metaphoric iceberg and the good ship modernity is sinking. The issue now is slowing down the damage and figuring out how the arts can contribute to emergency preparedness and support refugees and survivors. In other words, responding to the real needs of our communities while offering a set of long term solutions and visions through artistic expression (of all kinds). 

Given the circumstances, with all due respect and admiration, if artists are not doing this now, what are they doing? 

Warm thanks to David and Gideon for being upfront and taking these issues bull by the horns.

What’s next

The last episode of this season, e153 full circle, will explore this complex ‘what to do’ question further, for example, I refer to Buddhist writer Catherine Ingram:

There’s a point in going on.  It is to be here for others who are not as strong or clear as you and who will be frightened and in need of a calm presence.

What I’m reading 

Parting thought from Rebecca Solnit’s We can’t afford to be climate doomers

Some days I think that if we lose the climate battle, it’ll be due in no small part to this defeatism among the comfortable in the global north, while people in frontline communities continue to fight like hell for survival. Which is why fighting defeatism is also climate work.

More on defeatism and doomism in upcoming episodes.

Your feedback is always welcome.

See you in September.





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