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This episode is a reading of my January 2022 blog about some of the high and lows of season 3 of this podcast and my interest in layering words and soundscapes that create new contexts for listening, with excerpts from episodes 65, 69, 81, 86, 96 and a preview of e99 Winter Diary Revisited.
This episode is a reading of my conscient podcast blog for the month of January 2022.
Some might recall that I started the 3rd season of this podcast with a fictional case study:
(Teacher) Today, we’re going to do a case study today of the second season of the conscient podcast, which ran from March to August 2021. It was produced by an Ottawa based sound artist, Claude Schryer, who is passed away now, but I was very fortunate that his children, Riel and Clara, kindly helped me do some of the research for this class. I want to check if you have all had a chance to listen to the course materials, which were… conscient podcast episodes… 19 reality and 62 compilation. Were you…
(Male student, interrupting) Excuse me, but can you tell us why did you choose this podcast? Historically speaking, you know, there were other podcasts in Canada in 2021 that also explored issues of art and environment. Why this one?
(Teacher) That’s a very good question. I chose the second season of this podcast because Schryer was exploring the themes of reality and ecological grief, which were timely in 2021 and still are today. Also, because it gives us a snapshot of what artists and cultural workers were thinking about in relation to the ecological crisis.
I had fun doing that episode with my family. I presented it to a couple of university classes in the fall of 2021 and got some good feedback. For example, I appreciated this question from a student in an arts policy, equity and activism class at centennial college:
My question is more towards the arts industry in terms of activism. I feel like there’s a really high risk for burnout and for a lack of reward in terms of the work that you do. I think a lot of the time it falls on deaf ears and so I was wondering in your experience, what support systems have been put in place to support arts activists in their journey?
You can hear my answer and more conversation about art activism in episode 86.
I will conclude season 3 with episode 99, a soundscape composition called Winter Diary Revisited, my homage to composer R. Murray Schafer, who passed away in August of 2021. The piece features excerpts from an unpublished essay that Schafer wrote after a 10-day field recording trip that we undertook in rural Manitoba in February 1997 to record a radio program about winter soundscapes for the west German radio. L’épisode 100 du balado conscient sera la version française de cette composition de paysages sonores : Journal d’hiver revisité.
After publishing episode 100, I will take a break from podcast production and think about next steps. During this time, I invite you to get caught up on topics of interest in season 3, which started with episode 65, recorded while floating on a kayak at the cottage:
… There’s a duck… you hear…. di-di-di… the wings are so beautiful … – and share the process of failure and attempts to change that didn’t work, in a very straightforward kind of way, because that’s life: where we make mistakes and stumble and learn and get excited and then look back and we observe that. So that’s what season three will begin like as like. Actually, I can’t predict what it will end like, because, well, I’m just starting ….
I did make mistakes, stumble, learn and get excited in season 3. For example, my promise to do short episodes, of doing everything in a ‘single take’ or asking all guests about radical listening. I learned and adjusted my ways as season 3 unfolded and I got better at listening, sometimes quite radically, to my guests during conversations. I was able to do most of my conversations live in Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal, which improved the sound quality of the show.
However, some episodes did not work out as I had hoped. For example, here is the beginning of e69 soundwalk in the dark.
Good morning. It’s 4.56am on Wednesday September 29th and I’m about to go for soundwalk in the dark. I wanted to share with you this experience and see what happens.
At the time it seemed like a good idea to share my experience of improvising a soundwalk in the dark however, the result, in this case, was a lot of fun to produce but did not make for good podcast listening. In retrospect, I should have only kept the best moments from that soundwalk, like this one:
I’m on a hill so you can feel gravity. The pull towards downwards is an interesting sensation, like dancing with the mountain.
So, I’ll continue to experiment with new formats and uncomfortable situations in this podcast but next time I will ensure higher production values. My apologies for episode 69 and some of my other rambling monologues.
On a more positive note, one of things I realized during season 3 is my sensitivity to tone of voice. For example, episode 81 is this called inspiration and explores how ‘the tone and emotion in the voice of each person inspires and uplifts me every time I listen to it’. Here is the first minute of e81.
Art is a practice of expanding consciousness, which gives us a tremendous opportunity to explore and to embody possibility (Rebecca Mwase)
We want to awaken in order to be a service to everyone. (David Loy)
Creative cultural allegiance and how do we use that in a purposeful way is a critical question for us all. (Alison Tickell)
Comment faire en sorte de nourrir une nouvelle realité? Comment créer de l’art qui soit régénératif? Qui nourrisse quelque chose. (Anne-Catherine Lebeau)
I also came to realize during season 3 that I am deeply moved by the layering of words and soundscapes that create new contexts for listening. It’s like the spirits of the sounds are speaking to me. I can hear and feel their presence. I always have felt this but rarely talk about it because it sounds … strange and it’s hard to explain. Maybe you have had similar experiences? Feel free to let me know. Here’s an example (and a preview) from episode 99:
When Murray and I recorded Winter Diary in 1997, we recorded a lot of different winter sounds, but not cross-country skiing and it is a typical sound of winter in Canada and a very rich one. You can hear me skiing now as well as people skiing beside me. Skiing sounds have a number of different of elements: there the push and pull of the ski and the poles that hit in the snow and of course the breath of the skier and sometimes you can hear the wind in the trees: snowmobiles in the distance, dog…
See you in season 4.
I don’t know what the theme or format of season 4 will be yet but I anticipate that it will continue to be about art and the ecological crisis. I’ll update the website and rework the format a bit. Je pense aussi séparer les balados en francais pour faciliter l’accès et la visibilité de ces épisodes. I should be back during the spring of 2022.
One theme that interests me in future episodes is the idea of liminal space that Joan Sullivan talks about in episode 96 :
We find ourselves in a liminal space right now and liminal space means it’s that time between what was and what’s next. That’s where we are. It’s a place of not knowing and unless all of us humans, and not just artists, recognize that we are already in a transition – not just an energy transition – but a cultural, a democratic, a social transition. There is an end. We will come out of this. No one knows how, but we will pass through. It’s inevitable and what waits on the other side is up to us to design.
See you on the other side.
Thanks for listening.