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A Voice For The Ear

09 Apr

Recently I listened to the podcast Invisibilia’s episode “True You” after reading text from Jessica Abel’s Out On The Wire I thought it should be prudent to understand the podcast on the book’s terms.

Out On The Wire explains how important sound is to the creation of a podcast. Adding noise behind or after voices allow for a more dynamic, interactive experience, wildly different from the typical talking mctalkers of traditional radio. From establishing mood, characterization, or transition from scene to scene, the sfx to a podcast is quite important. However, it is all too easy for it to become a weakness on its part. Too much or too little creates a hockey experience.

For example, in one scene in “True You” a woman learns of an inner self that manifests in her dreams that is an escape from her trauma. The story is meditative and honestly quite calming. The tale is about confronting our past to look forward to hope to the future. The whole thing reeks of a kind of wistful joy. Great stuff all around. Unfortunately, that whole slew of emotions came from the transcript, rather than any affection from the podcast itself.

You see, the storytelling of this moving story is interrupted every few moments by a myriad of sound effects. From waves to music to childish giggles, the podcast is marred by a bombardment of noise. Noise that takes me out of the story, that annoys, and drags down the podcast for me. I understand why it is used, I really do. The methods that Abel speaks of are really quite admirable and have a great deal of thought put behind them. Yet, it seems to me that it just doesn’t work out for me.

What has this taught me? Well, it did teach me how I prefer my podcasts (silent and without interruptions), but also to approach my own podcasts if I go down a similar route. The idea is great, but needs substantial work. Not that I presume that I could do better, just that I wish to avoid some of the mistakes made already. Keep the noise subtle, not as frequent, lacking in a punch that overtakes the narrative, and generally unobtrusive. Subtly is a virtue after all.

 
 

Thoughts of the Moment

25 Mar

    As a project that is going on as of the current moment, I need to come up with just a few ideas for a podcast. Correction, an “inquiry based” podcast. Podcasts of this form are investigative, have a narrative, and answer a central question. ‘Course who knows what I might like to ask ultimately. Still, there are a few. The following two ideas are the ones that have most come to interest me, that which has stuck in my mind. Maybe I’ll pursue then, maybe I won’t. We’ll just have to see.

  1. What are the small moments that blossom into life changing events?
    1. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has experienced this. Little things that seems so inconsequential at the time, but come incredibly important later on. Miniscule details that arise their heads viciously. A slight word that ruptures the peace. You know, that kind of thing.
  2. When does the hated becomes important?
    1. Again, this is pretty universal. Those agonizing moments of sitting through someone’s boring lecture, a tedious meeting, a skill course, or just on the train to work. We all know what it feels like to be forced into a task over and over till it absolutely saps your will. Then, out of nowhere, it is needed. That fire training exercise that your boss had the whole floor tools aids the emergency, the daily commute puts you into the line of saving someone, and a boring lecture might just hold a crucial piece of advice.
 
 

Fake Vs Real: A Podcast In Review

19 Mar

    In a podcast by Invisibilia titled Post, Shoot the listener is confronted by the graphic and tragic tale of Brandon Wingo, and how his untimely death to gang violence all tied back to a social media post. Highly informative, the podcast is, as Alix Spiegel says, “looking at the relationship between fake and real.” In that manner is where the form of the thing emerges.

Much of the podcast is laid out simply and in a straightforward manner. Very early on the audience is given the conclusion, the conflict, and the characters, but the area surrounding that is most interesting. Rather than simply attempting to weave a narrative back and forth, trying to keep the audience on the edge of their seat, the crew at Invisibilia angle for a critical approach.

There is an air of the podcast from the very onset of having a very specific goal to research in mind; the connection between the imagined and created to the facts and reality, and how they affect one another. From there, the unfortunate story of Brandon Wingo is used as a framing device, a backdrop to that research goal. Now, this might seem callous in nature, to use someone’s tragedy as a narrative tool, but it really doesn’t come off that way. Invisibilia has a careful touch to the program, welding together that analysis and emotional appeals quite deftly. Personal and commemorative anecdotes to Brandon Wingo are merged together with the musings of the podcast members in a way that is highly effective.
In the combination of sentimentality and navel gazing Invisibilia accomplishes its goal quite admirably. The structure switches back and forth in a manner that is able to effectively commingle into an atmosphere that is both personal and informative. One might call it emotional manipulative, but of course it is. Afterall, it is ultimately a piece of entertainment, be it a exceptionally informative one.

 
 

Racism On A Broken Record

26 Feb

Racism on a Broken Record

“A black man is suspected,” “African-American wearing a hoodie,” “believed to be a black male.” Those words should be now familiar in this age of hte 24 hour news cycle. Phrases so often repeated that they become part of the nomenclature, the suspected expected. Removing agency from the suspected criminals, their identities becomes boiled down to just a few words. This video by the Bay Area Video Coalition takes aim at the dehumanization from news outlets.

The Usual Suspects video takes multiple approaches to its subject matter. Repetition and time, that is the strategy of this remix. Outlet after outlet proclaim that their story is “breaking news” full of excitement and intrigue. Yet, it is the same story every time. Vague descriptions of a generic male, pointed out at 0:46, that is noted verbatim for most of the two minute runtime. Drilling down a point of just how pervasive the terminology of categorization is toward the group.

Something quite interesting is the addition of a subtle, yet highly effective editing trick; Never showing any of the reported suspects in clear footage. Instead, sketches of the men, grainy outlines, and quick shots of passersby are all the viewer gets to witness of the main character of the remix. Not once is the perpetrators shown in light, distanced into the other/ Not noted at first, this quitely points out the how media takes a more insidious method to removing humanity of the black men, reducing them into media objects.

That is what impressed me, though the remix deos suffer from some quality issues. First, the sound quality is a bit rough and uneven. Second, the repetition has all the subtlety of a jackhammer. Everything is so upfront in one’s face that it becomes aggravating, rather than intriguing. Third, the pacing is a bit all over the shop. Due to the on-and-on-and-on style of the remix the speed is often sluggish, dragging out far more than it needed to. Overall though, I feel as if these negatives are outweighed by the excellence in the other elements.

America’s new cycle has been attacked in more depth than I could speak upon here, but let us note this; There is a serious issue in this country in how our sources of public information fail us. These outlets rely on panic buttons to boost rating, and in that process minimize the component figures of their stories to mere objects. The Usual Suspects takes grievance to this and aims high in their effort to fight it. It mostly succeeds.

 
 

I Know Bullet Fu

25 Feb



Look, the US is kinda in a fucked place right now. Political demagogues in the government, mass hysteria, and violence in the streets. There Has been dozens, if not hundreds, of shootings just over last few years. So many have died, so many injured. Kids mowed down in schools and theater goers in Aurora. Yet none of it is being stopped. Seriously, I mean nothing. Whenever a bill is proposed to regulate the flow of weaponry in the states it is shot down.

Back in 2013 former NRA president David Keene held a conference where he uttered the words “Today, guns are cool.” That is a horrifying statement in the years since where gun culture has been so glorified in media alongside rapidly increasing massacres.

So, how would this be argued against in the context of a political remix? This is my self imposed challenge for a recent class assignment. The aim is to mock the consumerism of tools of violence. For example, the Smith & Wesson commercials full of flashy bombast, making a handgun seem badass. Repeat this several times, cut to cut to cut of weapon ads. Then, suddenly, without warning, slip in footage of any one of the massacres of recent years. Yes, this may be in bad taste, but I feel as if this is necessary to contrast the glamourist product and horrific reality.

Jarringly, switch back to the ads. Overtime the switch between footage of violence and advertisement becomes frantic till it lingers on the aftermath of the the Las Vegas shooting. The aim here is to not just unsettle the viewer with the visceral actuality, but hopefully shake the way one might view gun culture. Now, this somewhat requires that the audience be supportive of gun consumerism, or at least ambivalent about it. Still, this whole scenario should work.

 
 

An Answer In Glass And Steel

31 Jan

When I was recently reading Robert Kunzig’s The City Solution, originally published for National Geographic, I was struck by an unexpected solution to a suspected problem. As a Vermonter born and raised, I was brought up to respect the environment and avoid urbanization, the latter being what my father called a “concrete hell.” Yet, Kunzig proposes a solution that would never have crossed my mind from one such as my background; The process of urbanization might not just be beneficial, but just might save us all. Sounds contradictory to my brain, but the author is great at addressing this conflict.

At the beginning of the piece, Kunzig sets up a great little primer to fill those in on a briefest of histories on urbanization in the last century. Then, he immediately dismissed those claims. “We are no longer primitives,” he seems to say, “those days are long behind us.” Instead, he makes a compelling statement instead, that the future of our race’s survival lies in the cities.

Moving on to support his point, he immediately utilizes a variety of sources to back up his audacious claim. Harvard economist Edward Glaeser espouses how metropolises create a system where individuals are interconnected than ever before. Ecological activists Stewart Brand and David Owen both claim that not only do cities consume less resources and take up less land, they also lead to lower emissions worldwide. A lesser article would be happy to rest its laurels on a few experts, but Kunzig strives farther to answer how cities will save us.

A common criticism of cities lies in the poor building management that results in the infamous sprawl. However, Kunzig notes that by no way needs to be the norm. Pointing at Seoul in South Korea, he demonstrates that a tightly planned city could defeat those criticisms. By going dense, rather than spilling ever outward, problems of consumption and travel would be firmly tackled.

I have to admit, this article changed my mind quite a bit. Again, Vermonter born and raised, one averse to the life in the city. Yet, Kunzig makes a compelling argument on the way to save our species. Global warming, overpopulation, isolation, all are serious threats faces the race. If what it takes is a gleaming metropolis to save us, then so be it.

 
 
 
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