chris connolly - black beach

chris

Black Beach was produced by Chris Connolly, from a conversation with Andrew Thomson.

Thanks to artist Lee Rosevere for permission to use his track "Illuminations" in this piece.

*********************************************************

Chris says: 

This wasn’t the piece I went searching for as my first extended production, but it was the piece that found me. The heartache at its centre was all I could manage to focus on when I recorded it almost a year ago. It was so off-the-cuff that I forgot to record any extended ambient sound, which left me with only a 12-second loop of waves to work with. I decided to use this as a creative constraint that ended up shaping the piece in an important way.

Initially, I imagined the piece being led by the dialogue, as two men stumbled into and out of the dehumanizing language of masculinity. They seemed to be re-learning something new with the utmost of imperfections -- a way of being together in their pain and loneliness and longing. But as I worked with the tape of the waves, I began to see what I had been missing in own conflicted relationship with masculinity. By layering the waves in crescendos and decrescendos, they began to sound like the breathing of a restless and wakeful presence. I knew that this formed an important character who could bear witness to the powerful forces and voices that are left out whenever men gather -- especially to talk about their pain in relationships of difference with the women and trans* people in their lives.

I wanted to suggest how there are voices and forces that are acting on these men and holding space for something bigger -- whether or not they can see or hear it happening. As these men fall in and out of dialogue with each other, they are also falling in and out of dialogue with the spaces that hold and held them. They still have a long way to go. There is so much that they do not and cannot know. But there is something vital about the instinct to surrender: to fall into those surging waves as they move over and under and through.

Inspirations from the world of radio and sound and beyond:

I’ve been most drawn to the sonic landscapes of poetry lately, especially the book “Passage” by Annishinabe/Mètis writer Gwen Benaway, “Islands of Decolonial Love” by Michi Saagiig Nishnaabe writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, and “Devotions” by American poet Mary Oliver. And something about these times has me listening to a lot of classic country albums. (Willie Nelson and EmmyLou Harris have both stopped me in my tracks during each of the last 2 days.) In different ways, each of these speak to me about the counterpoints of love and hardship beyond simple romance, and the dignity of surviving what must never be accepted.

In the sound world, there are two pieces that I returned to while making this piece: Sayre Quevedo’s ‘Espera’, and ‘The Leaves, Frost-Crisp'd, Break from the Trees’ by Jaye Kranz.

*********************************************************

Constellations says:

When we first heard this piece, it was at an earlier stage in its development, at a gathering with a group of Toronto audio aficionados. We both were moved by rawness of the tape. This sort of vulnerable conversation about masculinity was something we'd rarely, if ever, heard before. We love the piece's intimacy, not only in the words spoken but also in its style - the stereo recording, the feeling of being able to drift alongside its narrators as they walk the shoreline. Black Beach is Chris' first foray into audio, and we're so glad to be able to share it here on Constellations.

*********************************************************

Chris Connolly is a producer, design researcher and community organizer. This first extended production marks a career leap into the realms of documentary and sound art, following a lifetime of ephemeral passion projects in live storytelling, poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. As a producer, he orchestrates sound-rich stories from fearlessly intimate moments—when uncommon everyday people challenge and reinvent the mainstream cultures they just can’t abide. He has called his home Tkaronto/Toronto, within One Dish One Spoon treaty territory, since 2012.

kaija siirala - a conversation

kaija

A Conversation was produced by Kaija Siirala, from conversations wth Birgir Enni, Maarit Siirala, and Nik Sokol.

Thanks to Jordy Walker and Micah Smith for the night of recording the helicopter playground in Whitehorse.

*********************************************************

Kaija says: 

This project was born out of a conversation I had while visiting the Faroe Islands a few years ago. I interviewed a sea captain named Birgir Enni about how he navigates the incessant fog that shrouds the islands. The conversation grew to be about Birgir’s life - about living next to the ocean, and inside of it - a retired diver he spent 30 years building the tunnels and bridges that connect the Faroe Islands.

While we spoke, as with most conversations, my mind went in tangential directions, spurred by the themes and topics he spoke about. Upon returning home, I followed some of these tangents which lead me to Nik Sokol, a geologist and tunnel engineer who has worked on many tunnel projects all over the world, including the 7th line extension in Manhattan, and whose interest is with seeing the earth “from the inside out”; and Maarit Siirala, my aunt, who lives in the Yukon territory where they experience the extremes of light and dark in the cycle of a year.

As I reflected on these conversations, I noticed that all three of these people’s understanding of the world around them was shaped directly by listening and communicating with their unique surroundings.  This piece for Constellations focuses particularly on the relationships to light and dark in their environments. This understanding is not just one based in numbers and science, but at times uses a form of communication beyond the language of our world. 

Inspirations from the world of radio and sound and beyond:

I recently heard Phil Smith’s work for the first time and was pretty blown away by the way he ties seemingly disparate associations together (and the stellar sound design). I’ve also been loving the show Still Processing a lot lately - I really think they’ve hit their stride in terms of deep dive cultural analysis.  Outside of the radio/sound world, I’ve been filled up lately by stepping away from the computer screen, taking things one day at a time and embracing transition through hanging out with kiddos & hellos/goodbyes with family and old friends. 

*********************************************************

Constellations says:

Kaija's immersive piece is chalk full of sensual field recordings, including to our delight "some recordings of me playing piano downstairs in my old house through a hydrophone in the bathtub". Listening to this piece feels like we're following the fisherman's current into a suspension between light and shadow, propelled by bold transitions and a sensitivity to the musicality of voice. 

*********************************************************

Kaija Siirala works in documentary media as a picture editor, sound designer and educator.  Most recently, she edited a short piece, We Became Fragments, which was published as a New York Times’ Op-Doc.  Kaija has worked as a sound editor on films that have screened at the National Gallery of Canada, True/False Film Festival and AFI fest.  In 2015, she travelled to the Faroe Islands as part of the fluid states: performance of unknowing conference. She has been teaching as adjunct faculty at Hunter College and Pratt Institute the past three years and was a member-in-residence of the Meerkat Media Collective from 2016-2018. In May 2018, she completed her MFA in Integrated Media Arts at Hunter College (CUNY) and is now newly based in Hamilton, ON.

joaquin cofreces - maquinas humanas

Maquinas Humanas was produced by Joaquin Cófreces.

*********************************************************

Joaquin writes:

This sound piece is an adaptation of the play R.U.R (Rossum's Universal Robots) that was written in 1920 by Karel Čapek. The story takes place on an island where there’s a factory that makes androids which are being sold to the world as a cheap labor force. Although at first they seem happy to work for their creators, the play climaxes with the end of the human race due to a hostile robot rebellion.

In this visionary play the author criticizes our attitude towards technology. He expresses that all the machines can be worthless to humankind if we don't know how to use them, and his belief that not all progress means evolution.

The piece is a free adaptation of the original text, and a mixture between drama and radio art, with the aesthetic of comics. I had in mind the concept of a factory, assembling pieces from many sound sources. The work is made in different languages because the play happens in a kind of Babel tower. The voices were made with text to speech software to suggest that even humans can behave like robots, losing their emotions, living lives of repetition while building invisible systems of control. I wanted to create a mechanical experience with an electronic rhythm, an artificial reality and a world full of tiny noises.

*********************************************************

Constellations says:

Even if you don't understand Spanish, this piece is an evocative, multi-lingual sci-fi adventure. Masterfully produced, its assemblage of voices, samples, sound design, complex musical beds and sound effects wind it up into a delicious ear candy collage that leaves listeners reeling and dreaming.  We haven't heard any sound-art fiction like this before. 

*********************************************************

Joaquin Cófreces was born in 1975. He is a sound storyteller from Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, whose work ranges from features, to radio art, radio drama, museum installations, field recordings, sound art, to soundscapes. He has run and spoken at conferences, workshops, and universities around the world, and been featured by broadcasters, festivals and galleries in China, Iran, India, France, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Belgium, Norway, Croatia, Finland, Australia, and beyond. A dedicated collector of sounds, he brings a recorder on his travels instead a camera. Joaquin understands radio as a space for experimentation, and sound as a global way of telling stories in an emotional language.