blog – september 2023

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I published 4 episodes in August:

In other words, I slowly deconstructed drops and layers … of sound…

I also produced 5 new episodes (to be published in October 2023) during my residency at DAÏMÔN media arts production centre for the Radio-Hull radio festival which runs from September 7 to October 4, 2023. Big thanks to Daimon for hosting. 

It was great to have access to better quality audio equipment and to be part of a cohort of artists creating new radio work. 

I also realized this month that my perception of the art sector is changing.

For example in my August conscient blog I observed that, in reference to the ecological crisis :  

‘…given the circumstances, with all due respect and admiration, if artists are not doing this now, what are they doing?’ 

No-one reacted or responded.

I think the arts sector, me included, are ‘stuck’ in a vortex of denial about the ecological crisis (like most of the rest of western society). We seem to be unable to play the role that organisms like SCALE (and others) are calling upon us to do. 

I don’t think this is defeatism (I explore this in e143 defeatism to be published on October 22)  but rather accepting reality (see e153 full circle which will be published on December 31). 

Most of us are ‘aware’ (eco art in support) but we are stunned. When we wake up from this stupor – necessarily through fire, flood and famine – it will be too late. It actually has been too late for many years now. Like a great fictional tragedy, we’re now burning the last bits of the candle as the 6th extinction unfolds. 

This is why I’m now working on emergency preparedness and how to support those in need for season 5 of this podcast. That’s what is left to do.

August 10, 2023

artificial intelligence

I shared posting below on Facebook and LinkedIn and got more responses than expected. Much more than any conscient episode so far.

On a rainy day…. I asked Chat GPT: 

‘What is the sound of modernity’: 

‘The sound of modernity is a symphony of electronic devices humming, the rapid clicks of keyboards, the soft hum of air conditioning, intermittent smartphone notifications, the distant whirring of cars, and the bustling energy of city life woven together into a dynamic and ever-changing background.’

It did not say these sounds are good or bad so I asked it to be more critical: 

‘The sound of modernity can often be characterized by the cacophony of relentless notifications, the endless drone of traffic, the mechanical beeps and blips of machines, and the superficial conversations drowned out by the noise of consumerism. It’s a discordant blend that sometimes drowns out genuine human connection and the natural world, leaving us more connected to our screens than to the realities around us.’

I then asked it to be ‘more radical’:

‘The sound of modernity reverberates with the clash of ideologies, the digital uproar of social media, the primal screams for justice, and the defiant chants of those demanding change. It’s a symphony of revolution, where traditional norms are challenged, and the status quo is shaken to its core. Amid the chaos, whispers of hope and cries for a new world order crescendo, creating a radical anthem that dares to rewrite the script of society.’

Finally.. I asked it to be ‘more optimistic’ : 

‘The sound of modernity carries the vibrant beats of innovation and progress, the harmony of diverse voices coming together, and the uplifting melodies of collaboration and empathy. It’s a chorus of technological marvels, cultural exchanges, and global awareness that sings of a world connected like never before. In this symphony, the potential for positive change and a brighter future resonates, fueled by the belief that humanity’s collective efforts can create a harmonious and thriving world for all.’

Here is some of the feedback I received on FaceBook :

The sound of one hand clapping?

Chat GPT n’a que finalement dit ce que ton esprit lui a aiguillé comme raisonnement. En fait, la machine ramasse ce qu’elle a comme infos et la réarrange en fonction de la satisfaction client. (Chat GPT only finally said what your mind told it to say. In fact, the machine picks up what information it has and rearranges it according to customer satisfaction.)

Interesting experiment!


Good Lord, I’m glad I’m not teaching any longer.

Wow. I like your direction here.

Ugh, way too verbose is the sound of that modernity. I fear I am not modern enough to handle it.

Squeaky clean comes to mind. I hear the inordinate challenge this is for teachers on all levels. Ask students to do an essay, with a critical or sympathetic or ironic twist or whatever, and this chat GPT does it all tidy and seamless. So how can the prof know, except that it’s toooo smooth and trendy sounding?! In my day we could always tell when a less gifted student suddenly wrote like a New York Times editorialist. Then we could google, or harder yet, go to the library and check their sources!! aaargh!!!! But this raises even bigger challenges. Yikes!!!!!!!!!!

Or ask them to critique what AI wrote…teachers won’t be able to fight this stuff so we’ll just have to learn how to use it as a polemic.

AI is already out of control (too few parameters on its use) but like nuclear technology we’ll have to learn to manage it or risk the consequences… slowing it all down in key…

I bet you are the first one, Claude, to have asked that question! I like your requests for further refinement of the answers. Great way to develop skills in questioning this ‘entity’ and to listen to/process its answers! 

Not much ecology in this machine’s constructed notion of our world.

What a fascinating, extraordinary exchange! Gives me some hope, but not without apprehension, about AI in our lives.

This is totally fascinating and also gives me a weird sort of sense of apprehension. (also…I can’t write as well as Chat GPT and might be relegated to the heap.). But thanks. I’m going to share this…

Il faut peut-être revoir les “prompt” (We may need to review the “prompt”.)


This stream of comments and excitement felt ironic to me. Why can’t people talk about the future of our planet with this same vitality? Why is artificial intelligence more relevant than the end of the world as we know it ? 

August 17, 2023

origins of sounding modernity

I wrote an article called ‘sounding modernity (2023) – my learning and unlearning journey with the conscient podcast’ where I presented a series of excerpts from my blogs from December 2022 to August 2023 and with insights about them. 

It begins with a reminder of what this project is about from my December 7, 2022 blog Sounding Modernity

On September 16, 2022, I had the privilege of receiving a Canada Council Strategic Innovation Fund Seed grant to produce season 4 of my conscient podcast called ‘Sounding Modernity: weekly 5-minute sound art works in 2023’, published on Sundays, from January 1 to December 31, 2023, in English and in French. Each episode explores a complex issue and includes a question for listeners to respond to in any way they wish, with words, images, sound, video, etc. through the conscient website or on conscient social media. The idea to create an informal forum for learning and unlearning. I commit to do my best to respond to every submission and, with permissions, to publish some of them in the conscient newsletter. My goal with ‘Sounding Modernity’ is to explore what 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’ (Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures Collective) as suggested in ‘Preparing for the end of the world as we know it’ by the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective, a group of scholars and researchers led by Dr. Vanessa Andreotti, author of Hospicing Modernity. The work of the GTDF collective has strongly influenced my approach to this project and I am deeply grateful for their wisdom and support.

What I mean by ‘modernity’

Which modernity? I don’t mean modernist art or modernism as a style (though I guess it can be a part of it). I mean the modern era based on extractive capitalism, overconsumption, endless growth, systemic racism, white supremacy, separation from nature, and so on. I want to investigate various interpretations of ‘modernity’: our so-called modern lifestyles, structures, sites, beings, creatures, habits, etc.  and I want to do this by listening to the sound of modernity. In other words, I want to address some of the causes of this massive and violent overreach of planetary boundaries while exploring how we can preserve some of modernity’s benefits, without the destruction.  My objective with Sounding Modernity is not to find short term solutions, nor is it to help you feel better about the state of the world. Rather, with a lot of humility and respect, I offer you 5 minutes every week to stop and listen to a sound artwork that addresses an issue, a situation, a dilemma, a problem, an impossibility, but also to celebrate, to preserve and to nurture possibilities. I invite you to ‘stay with the trouble’  which is a well-known quote from Dr. Donna J. Haraway and to embrace the advice of Dr. Vanessa Andreotti to ‘hold space for the good, the bad, the ugly and the messed up, within and around’.

My artistic approach

During my career as a composer and sound artist, I developed a ‘soundscape composition’ style that combines layering context (field recordings) with abstraction (electronic and instrumental music) – often with an observational or poetic narrative. The artistic language of ‘Sounding Modernity’ expands on this vocabulary with a mix of slowly paced narration and long silences that are interwoven with new or archival field recordings and/or soundscape compositions.

About ‘who might listen’

My experience in producing 100 episodes of the conscient podcast so far is that audiences are saturated and overwhelmed with facts and data about the ecological crisis but are more comfortable engaging, relationally and affectively, with these complex issues through stories, metaphors, illustrations, and connections to what they value the most in everyday life. Sounding Modernity is intended to be accessible to all audiences but is more likely to be relevant to those who have already begun a learning and unlearning journey about the ecological crisis, including questioning the complicity of western art itself. This is hard work, akin to biting the hand that feeds you. My hope is that we find a way, together, to navigate our way out of modernity’s trappings and to create, step by step, the conditions for other worlds to emerge.

About ‘Why now’

‘The world needs you right now, because anything that we do this year or next is worth ten of the same thing ten years from now.’ Emily Johnston, Loving in a Vanishing World. Because we have no choice, but we also don’t need to drown in a state of inertia (life will go on, without or without ‘us’). What I love about the arts is their unlimited potential as a process of change. The arts can simultaneously comfort the afflicted, inspire the depressed, anticipate the impossible, invigorate the dispirited, catalyze the discouraged, challenge our assumptions, etc. The arts also have the potential to inflict harm, consciously or unconsciously, which is why a set of guiding values and principles are critical.

The article concludes that:

I don’t have any brilliant, summative, academic conclusions to share. I know that my ongoing learning and unlearning journey is filled with contradictions, discoveries and ambiguity. I plan to continue producing this podcast for the rest of my life, exploring, listening, adjusting and preparing to leave my place when my time comes. 

August 31, 2023

I read this article, ‘Off-the-charts records’: has humanity finally broken the climate?’, on the last day of August and was most interested by this excerpt :

However, a “tiny window” of opportunity remained open to tackle the climate crisis, they said, with humanity having all the tools needed. The researchers overwhelmingly pointed to one action as critical: slashing the burning of fossil fuels down to zero.

The article points out that science has been right so far in most of its climate predictions. What will we do when that tiny window closes?

It reminded me of an allegory of light in Ben Okri’s After the End speculative fiction story (which ultimately ends with a sense of hope).

This dilemma of certainty and speculation is what keeps me up at night but also animates my spirit. 

With this, knowing that there is always more to share, I will stop for now. 

Thanks for listening and reading. 

Your feedback is always welcome.

See you in October.

Note: Drawing by Sabrina Mathews





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