memory

ayaz kamani - point pelee

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Point Pelee was produced by Ayaz Kamani. It was edited by Jess Shane.


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Ayaz says:

A friend and I went to record birds at Point Pelee in Ontario. One morning, amidst our 5 am grogginess, all the birds exploded to life simultaneously, like someone was conducting them. Like they were all conducting each other. It was beautiful, symphonic.

Naturally, we tried to record it the next morning, and even more naturally than our urge to try to record it the next day, it didn't happen. So that was hilarious. We come with all this equipment, and the most amazing sonic experience, we missed. It felt like a prank - like the birds were doing a very good prank.

I decided to try to capture that moment post-mortem. I began the painstaking and enjoyably obsessive task of resurrection. And it was very difficult. I used recordings from Point Pelee as a blanket or a bandaid to help nurture the memory from its palliative state, because it's was degrading and morphing from its original state. Those Point Pelee recordings were like touchstones, and the closest thing that I had to documentation of that experience, but the vast majority of the sounds used in the piece were sound effects from a library.

I've been cutting a lot of background sound effects lately for visual media. In this field, you're manufacturing what's natural. I've said to myself often, 'oh this isn't natural.' Yet when all the birds came together in such a rare musical way, I thought about how although this movement is part of nature, it’s considered unnatural, or feels unnatural, if it’s not in service the story being told by the visual images, or of the dialogue. Background sound always must be isolated, controlled so that nothing competes with the story.

What I create through sound design is a false representation of nature, but a constant reminder that it exists, because you're like ‘oh shit this room, no one's going to believe this room if there is no air and room tone.’ So you have to put all this stuff in to sell the room. You're always walking a fine line.

While making this piece, I thought a lot about where my urge to recreate this moment at Point Pelee really came from. What evolutionary need does it serve?

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Inspiring Ayaz in sound and beyond:

The sound of the hotel room door in the movie Barton Fink, but more than that, people at work and listening to the city while walking. I'm not sure, maybe everything, and everybody, so I guess nothing specific except for trees.

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Ayaz Kamani is an artist and sound designer, primarily for film, based in Toronto.

“I was born in Winnipeg, but only lived there for six months as a child before moving to Vancouver, so I can't truly call my self a Winnipegger. But sometimes when I feel insecure about my Canadianity due to certain questions, I clearly state that I was born in Winnipeg. Not sure where I'm going to die though, ideally on a spit of sand while a lazy tide tickles my feet, and a sand flea drinks sweat from my belly button. Currently, work-wise, I edit sound, conform dialogue, type out ADR scripts and complete a litany of post production tasks for television and movies.”

bonnie jones - and if i live a thousand lives i hope to remember one

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And if I live a thousand lives I hope to remember one was produced by Bonnie Jones in 2015 and originally commissioned for EVENING WILL COME: A MONTHLY JOURNAL OF POETICS (THE ART OF LOSING—ISSUE 58, curated by John Melillo and Johanna Skibsrud. 

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Bonnie says: 

This piece uses 6-minute looping cassette tapes that I've been incorporating into my live concert performance set up. I usually create feedback and different playback by pressing on all the keys of the cassette player. Because I'm pressing all of the different keys, including record and stop and forward, the cassette actually starts to pick up some of the concert that's happening, so oftentimes on a cassette I'll start to hear the other musicians or little fragments of other players that are in the set with me. Over the course of several years of using the same cassette player and the same cassette tape, the record of the recording turns out to be this kind of palimpsested recording; multiple layers of different performances over several years. The final result that you hear is actually multiple concerts where I've recorded and re-recorded over this one 6-minute loop of cassette tape.

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Constellations says:

More than others we've played, Bonnie's piece is grounded in the process of its creation and its physicality. Working her worn out tape reel till it glitches and moans, Bonnie's work speaks to memory, ghosts, and chance. 

This piece does a magic thing of infusing a recording with the nowness of live music; it is as much a happening as the musical performances that were its building blocks, with the failure of the recording technology as performer and conductor.

In a percussive wave of otherworldly sighs and stutters, the richly textured sound leaves us guessing, with memorable sonic moments passing before can fully process them, so that when they stay longer than expected we are moved and curious - but the tape rolls on.

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Bonnie Jones is a Korean-American improvising musician, poet, and performer working with electronic sound and text. She performs solo and in numerous collaborative music, film, and visual art projects. at institutions in the US, Mexico, Europe and Asia, including the LA MOCA, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, and REDCAT. Her collaborative sound works have been shown at the Swiss Institute, Whitney Museum, and Hunter College. Bonnie was a 2018 recipient of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. Born in 1977 in South Korea she was raised on a dairy farm in New Jersey, and currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland.

julie shapiro - is this an exercise?

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Is this an Exercise is a portrait of the first detailed visual representation of how nuclear war might devastate America. "The Day After" was shown on national TV 25 years ago, in 1983. Five adults recall powerful childhood memories of watching it, and discuss how the movie has lived on in their minds - in surprisingly vivid and strange ways.

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Julie writes: 

Back in the 80's I sneak-watched a TV movie with highly disturbing content (about nuclear war) and it's been passively haunting me ever since. I discovered a lot of my friends had the same experience with this movie, and are also still lightly traumatized, so asked them all about it.

What's inspiring her in the world of radio:

I'm inspired by: the Ear Hustle team I'm so lucky to work with, the Night Vale folks/shows, Brooke Gladstone (always), still and always the Soundproof and the Third Coast team. Also! Reply All, Heavyweight, Another Round, How to Be a Girl, S-Town, Imaginary Advice, and all the Radiotopians, of course. 

Inspiration outside of audio: 

Biking to work every day, relishing OUTSIDE, books (Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders most recently blew my mind), my amazing family, the therapeutic horseback riding program I recently started volunteering at, Conversations with People Who Hate Me, the smaller moments, day to day, off-screen. 

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Constellations says:

We love this casual, conversational approach to documenting memory. As listeners, we feel similar to how Julie describes herself; peeking out between our fingers to see what's at the root of our own memories, hidden in between unusual childhood associations. It's playful and jarring all at once. 

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Julie Shapiro is the executive producer of Radiotopia from PRX, a curated network of extraordinary, cutting-edge podcasts. From 2014-15, Julie was the executive producer of the ABC / Radio National's (RN) Creative Audio Unit. In 2000 she co-founded the Third Coast International Audio Festival, where as artistic director she shaped the Festival's creative trajectory and prioritized innovative audio and a cross-pollinating international listening culture. Julie has taught radio to university students, presented at conferences all over the globe, and produced stories for the airwaves and podcasts in the US and beyond. She has recently dropped anchor with her son and husband in Arlington, MA. Follow her on Twitter @jatomic.