WebEvent#3: First time podcast

ishin's picture

Because I'm interested in making a series of podcasts for my final activism project, I made a podcast for my final webevent.

Attaching the script may actually be the best because it actually holds more content within it than the podcast itself (there way a lottt of editing involved).

Here's the script:

When I first started off with this podcast, I was going to speak about the difference between the stage directions “pause” and “silence” in the play Wating for Godot, but as you can tell, I had a little trouble trying articulate anything meaningful.

 

I’ve made a couple of recordings and youtube videos in the past, and I want to be able to say that you eventually get used to it—but I can only partially partake in that that claim. 

To be sure, there are a couple of things on that list I’m used to: I’m no longer embarrassed by the way my voice sounds outside my own head, and I’m much more okay with making mistakes on the camera—after all, that’s what editing for.

But without fail, I still fall into the same trap that I think gets a lot of us: the one where you get caught up in each syllable you utter, the amount of air you take in through your lungs, and the weight of each word that leaves your lips.  The trap of being overwhelming self-consciousness about your own vocal speech patterns.

 

As I say all of this and create this podcast, I can’t help but feel a certain tinge of guilt—a guilt that undeniably stems from meeting Christine Sun Kim this past week.  Here she is, discussing the lack of ownership she has over sound, while I’m using a medium of communication that hinges on those very sound waves.  Not only that, but I’m whining about how I don’t like it.  You know how you think about the starving kids in Africa after you look in your fully stocked pantry and say there’s nothing to eat?  Yeah.

 

After about 12 attempts at an introduction, I took a break —I didn’t feel like dealing with the anxiety and trepidation that laced all those recordings.  Instead, I went to the kitchen and griped to my roommate about voice recordings.  “I could share a few stories about that” she said.  Break was over soon after.

 

[Introduce conversation with Gilly]

 

Beyond being my roommate, Gilly is my best friend, and since we’re so comfortable with each other, I thought that our conversation would succeed where I alone had failed.  But the conversation wasn’t fluid, light and colloquial, as per usual; instead, there was a certain amount of staleness to our words, and it’s evident in our recording together.  Fortunately, we still managed to get something out of it—here’s Gilly’s last statement: [statement acknowledging having a recorder makes us inevitably perform]

 

In the most straight forward way possible, Gilly says what is blaringly obvious about what makes us so uncomfortable when we put ourselves in front of a camera or recorder: there’s no one physically there, but we still feel the pressure of a studio audience before us. 

So here I was, introducing viewers to our typically private and intimate conversations.

I stopped the tape recorder, and merely said, “that was weird”. 

What I really should’ve said was “that was really insincere”

 

By making this podcast, I am now coming to terms with what we are signing up for when we share our voices.  In the essay, “Advertencia/Warning”, one of the main points made is how people feel entitled to intimacy when you share your words.  And I quote “readers feel entitled to know everything as they approach a text, practically any text, with the conspiratorial intimacy of a potential partner.” (ix)  People tend to get greedy as an audience, expecting you to share each gasp of air you take in. All for the sake of getting to know you closer, all for the sake of establishing a relationship over the radio waves.

 

So I think I need to remind myself that there’s a definite price to being recorded.  As Christine Sun Kim quotes in her own thesis that “the medium of sound…carries a lot of… currency”.  I can’t help but feel a little strange for using a friend to serve the ends of making myself feel more comfortable in front of an audience.  There I was, bartering an intimate relationship in exchange for being comfortable around viewers.  So she’s right—sound and the words it carries does carry a lot of value, but sometimes, we sell things through sound that we probably shouldn’t.

 

As I’m about to bring this to a close, I realize that I’ve never explicitly addressed the web event topic:            My answer is that the past couple of weeks have made me realize how much silence in all its forms is devalued, and how much we’re willing to put a lot on the line to abide by this cultural norm.  The readings, visitors, online posts, and our conversations have all pointed to this, but maybe more surprisingly, so does this podcast.  Instead of remaining silent, here I am. Recording awkward conversations with my friends, putting myself through listening to myself stutter over and over again, and pushing my way through all the uncomfortableness associated with making this damn thing—all for the sake of putting together a podcast for 20 some people to listen to.  I invested well over 3 pages worth of time into it—and it’s all because I’d rather be heard than be silent.

 

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Comments

Anne Dalke's picture

as you describe

...your project in detail, it becomes more and more compelling (and less and less problematic!). Please put these ideas up in the "brainstorming activism" section of our forum (or link to this conversation there). Thanks!

Anne Dalke's picture

"Wierd...insincere...?"

Technically, ishin, what engages me here is the two layers of talking you've represented, the voice overs...these layers are really very evocative...

and/but I'm also curious about why you introduced the music 1/2-way through...what were you aiming for there?

And of course conceptually what interests me --once you've described how very difficult it is for any of us to be sincere, to be authentic, when we are being recorded-- is why you want to make podcasts for your final project, especially podcasts "telling the stories of people who otherwise gone unnoticed." If you (who has had a certain amount of visibility) are so self-conscious when being recorded, how will it be for your subjects? Why would you want to collect stories that you know, already, will be "wierd" and/or "really insincere"?

I've had some personal experience w/ this process, btw; I was applying for a grant last spring that required a video presentation. My daughter's partner, who is a documentary filmmaker, agreed to record me...and I found it excruciating! (Digging it out to link it up for you here, I cringed, all over again, @ hearing myself--this isn't me!) I had no idea how to be natural, how to talk "as myself." I didn't get the grant...and I'm not surprised!

So: I love the idea of your doing podcasts for your final project. And/but I'd like to have you also go on thinking about the problematics of this idea: what gets left @ the door in such a process, what might actually be silenced in the process of trying to grant voice...? What is it that you are hoping to represent, in this project? Why is it important to you? (And is a podcast the most effective way to achieve those goals? I'm thinking here, too, of the contrast of Jo's video, which actually aims to represent the silences, tries to figure all we cannot access.)

ishin's picture

Hi Anne

Thanks for the comments--these are ones that are definitely necessary to clarify and give me a little structure to how I should be presenting my activism project.

The answer to the first question is probably a little underwhelming:  I just wanted music that cues the people to my transitioning into the conclusion of the podcast.  In regards to the structure of both the content and the aesthetic of the podcast, one thing I want to say is that I'm still trying to figure out all the kinks that are entailed in delivering a story in this form of narration.  Because of it, I admittedly felt a little uneasy in presenting this podcast as I felt it left a couple of gaps in the narration (as I also believe the script did as well).  I'm glad the layering evoked the effect I intended (or at least I hope it did) at the very least, but again, trying to figure things out.

There are several reasons why I find myself compelled to a podcast form:
1) I've always been a big fan of radio and have always wanted to produce something like this.  In another life (or maybe just later on this one), I thought that I would have gone into journalism and more specifically, radio journalism.
2) I wanted to keep this form of activism as "portable" as possible.  Podcasts are easily accessible, and what's more, you can engage in them while doing a variety of activities (i.e. cooking, commuting, exercising, just being with your friends).  One of the main goals of our final activism project is that they be accessible for all to partake in, and I thought that easy access may be one part of how to achieve this goal
3) As mentioned in my original proposal, I wanted to give voice to people who often go unnoticed.  I believe that a part of the reason why some voices are not heard is because of the way they look (may it be their ethnicity or the wardrobe they (are forced to) wear).  By doing podcasts, I believe that these women's voices and stories can be better heard if they are separated from their physical bodies.  That way, people are listening to and not seeing what is being said.  Perhaps there is another way of putting this:  I want to intentionally silence their image associated with the vocal chords and give more attention to certain aspects of their identity.
When I say all of this, I do want to say that I hope to have transcripts of all the podcasts so that people may have visual access to the stories as well.
4)  That being said, I was actually hoping to reach out to a friend of mine who did a project attempting to give rise to Asian-American identity on Duke campus (link or maybe the facebook page would be more appropriate), and maybe do an exchange of sorts of their portraits and our podcasts.  I thought this would be cool since it would raise awareness of what is happening on other campuses, and also be used as a visual component to what I would like to do.

This is making me realize that there's a lot of emailing to be done.

Hope this clarifies--I still don't think I'm giving a full answer to the questions you pose, so please keep the suggestions coming.

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