Conscient Podcast: e52 mahtani – listening & connecting

If we can find ways to encourage people to listen, that can help them to build a connection, even if it’s to a small plot of land near them. By helping them to have a new relationship with that, which will then expand and help hopefully savour a deeper and more meaningful relationship with our natural world, and small steps like that, even if it’s only a couple of people at a time, that could spread. I think that nobody, no one person, is going to be able to change the world, but that doesn’t mean we should give up. 

dr. annie mahtani, conscient podcast, june 11, 2021, united kingdom

Note: This episode is dedicated to World Listening Day on July 18 2021 on the theme of The Unquiet Earth. It was published on that day, which is also the birthday of Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer. For more information see https://www.worldlisteningproject.org/

Dr. Annie Mahtani is an electroacoustic composer, sound artist and performer working and living in Birmingham (UK). She studied with Jonty Harrison at master’s and doctoral level at the University of Birmingham, completing her PhD in 2008. Annie’s output encompasses electronic music composition from acousmatic music to free improvisation. As a collaborator, Annie Mahtani has worked extensively with dance and theatre, and on site-specific installations. With a strong interest in field recording, her work often explores the inherent sonic nature and identity of environmental sound, amplifying sonic characteristics that are not normally audible to the naked ear. Annie is a Lecturer in Music at the University of Birmingham and is co-director of SOUNDkitchen, a Birmingham-based collective of curators, producers and performers of live electronic music and sound art. 

I first met Annie at The Global Composition gathering in Dieburg, Germany (with thanks to organizer Sabine Breitsameter) where she presented some of her audio work and ideas on soundwalking and technology. 2 years later I had the pleasure of presenting a workshop on Reality, Extinction, Grief and Art at the BEAST FeAST 2021: Recalibration on April 23, 2021 in Birmingham (via Zoom), which explored greater appreciation of the environment, reconnection with the environment and deeper awareness of human effects on the environment. 

This workshop with 30 or so audio artists from around the world had a profound affect me. It helped me understand some of the issues my community of audio artists were facing and reminded me of the burden placed on young people as they inherit this troubled world. I also appreciated their guarded optimism and resilience. One participant suggested that, given the climate emergency, maybe all music should be acoustic ecology (the study of the acoustic environment as a whole as opposed to only the art of music) from now on. Maybe… 

This quote from the episode summarizes Annie’s thinking on the role of the festival:

For the (BEAST) festival we wanted to look at what COVID has done to alter and adjust people’s practice, the way that composers and practitioners have responded to the pandemic musically or through listening and also addressing the wider issues: what does it mean going forwards after this year, the year of uncertainty, the year of opportunity for many? What does it mean going forward to our soundscape, to our environmental practice and listening? We presented that goal for words, as a series of questions, you know, not expecting necessarily any answers, but a way in a way to address it and a way to explore and that’s what the, the weekend of concerts and talks and workshops was this kind of exploration of our soundscapes, thinking about change and thinking about our future.

I would like to thank Annie for taking the time to speak with me about our shared interest in electroacoustic music, for her excellence as a composer and curator, for her commitment to social justice and her passion for listening. 

For more information on Annie’s work, see http://www.anniemahtani.co.uk/

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(translation)

Si nous pouvons trouver des moyens d’encourager les gens à écouter, cela peut les aider à établir un lien, même si c’est seulement avec une petite parcelle de terrain près de chez eux. En les aidant à avoir une nouvelle relation avec celle-ci, qui s’étendra ensuite et les aidera à savourer une relation plus profonde et plus significative avec notre monde naturel, et des petits pas comme ça, même si ce n’est que quelques personnes à la fois, cela pourrait se propager. Je pense que personne, pas une seule personne, ne sera capable de changer le monde, mais cela ne veut pas dire que nous devons abandonner. 

dr. annie mahtani, podcast conscient, 11 juin 2021, royaume-uni

Note : Cet épisode est dédié à la Journée Mondiale de l’Écoute du 18 juillet 2021 sur le thème de La Terre Inquiète (The Unquiet Earth). Il a été publié ce jour-là, qui est aussi l’anniversaire du compositeur canadien R. Murray Schafer. Pour plus d’informations, voir https://www.worldlisteningproject.org/

Annie Mahtani est une compositrice électroacoustique, artiste sonore et performeuse qui travaille et vit à Birmingham (Royaume-Uni). Elle a étudié avec Jonty Harrison au niveau de la maîtrise et du doctorat à l’Université de Birmingham et a obtenu son doctorat en 2008. La production d’Annie englobe la composition de musique électronique, la musique acousmatique et l’improvisation libre. En tant que collaboratrice, Annie Mahtani a beaucoup travaillé avec la danse et le théâtre, ainsi que sur des installations spécifiques. Avec un intérêt marqué pour l’enregistrement sur le terrain, son travail explore souvent la nature sonore inhérente et l’identité du son environnemental, en amplifiant les caractéristiques sonores qui ne sont normalement pas audibles à l’oreille. Annie est maître de conférences en musique à l’université de Birmingham et codirectrice de SOUNDkitchen, un collectif de conservateurs, de producteurs et d’interprètes de musique électronique en direct et d’art sonore basé à Birmingham. 

J’ai rencontré Annie pour la première fois lors du rassemblement The Global Composition à Dieburg, en Allemagne (grâce à l’organisatrice Sabine Breitsameter), où elle a présenté une partie de son travail audio et de ses idées sur la marche sonore et la technologie. Deux ans plus tard, j’ai eu le plaisir de présenter un atelier sur Laréalité, l’extinction, le deuil et l’art lors du BEAST FeAST 2021: Recalibration le 23 avril 2021 à Birmingham (via Zoom), qui explorait une plus grande appréciation de l’environnement, la reconnexion avec l’environnement et une conscience plus profonde des effets humains sur l’environnement. 

Cet atelier réunissant une trentaine d’artistes audio du monde entier m’a profondément marqué. Il m’a aidé à comprendre certains des problèmes auxquels ma communauté d’artistes audio était confrontée et m’a rappelé le fardeau qui pèse sur les jeunes lorsqu’ils héritent de ce monde troublé. J’ai également apprécié leur optimisme prudent et leur résilience. Un participant a suggéré que, compte tenu de l’urgence climatique, peut-être que toute la musique devrait désormais relever de l’écologie sonore (l’étude de l’environnement acoustique dans son ensemble, par opposition au seul art de la musique). Qui sait. 

Cette citation de l’épisode résume la pensée d’Annie sur le rôle du festival :

Pour le festival (BEAST), nous voulions examiner ce que le COVID a fait pour modifier et ajuster la pratique des gens, la façon dont les compositeurs et les praticiens ont répondu à la pandémie musicalement ou par l’écoute, et aussi aborder des questions plus larges : qu’est-ce que cela signifie pour l’avenir après cette année, l’année de l’incertitude, l’année de l’opportunité pour beaucoup ? Que signifie l’avenir de notre paysage sonore, de notre pratique environnementale et de notre écoute ? Nous avons présenté cet objectif sous forme de mots, comme une série de questions, sans attendre nécessairement de réponses, mais comme une façon de l’aborder et de l’explorer, et c’est ce que le week-end de concerts, de discussions et d’ateliers a permis de faire : une sorte d’exploration de nos paysages sonores, une réflexion sur le changement et sur notre avenir.

Je tiens à remercier Annie d’avoir pris le temps de me parler de notre intérêt commun pour la musique électroacoustique, pour son excellence en tant que compositrice et commissaire, pour son engagement en faveur de la justice sociale et pour sa passion de l’écoute. 

Pour plus d’informations sur le travail d’Annie, voir http://www.anniemahtani.co.uk/

The post e52 mahtani – listening & connecting appeared first on conscient podcast / balado conscient. conscient is a bilingual blog and podcast (French or English) by audio artist Claude Schryer that explores how arts and culture contribute to environmental awareness and action.

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About the Concient Podcast from Claude Schryer

The conscient podcast / balado conscient is a series of conversations about art, conscience and the ecological crisis. This podcast is bilingual (in either English or French). The language of the guest determines the language of the podcast. Episode notes are translated but not individual interviews.

I started the conscient project in 2020 as a personal learning journey and knowledge sharing exercise. It has been rewarding, and sometimes surprising.

The term ‘conscient’ is defined as ‘being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts and motivations’. My touchstone for the podcast is episode 1, e01 terrified, based on an essay I wrote in May 2019, where I share my anxiety about the climate crisis and my belief that arts and culture can play a critical role in raising public awareness about environmental issues. The conscient podcast / balado conscient follows up on my http://simplesoundscapes.ca (2016–2019) project: 175, 3-minute audio and video field recordings that explore mindful listening.

Season 1 (May to October 2020) explored how the arts contribute to environmental awareness and action. I produced 3 episodes in French and 15 in English. The episodes cover a wide range of content, including activism, impact measurement, gaming, arts funding, cross-sectoral collaborations, social justice, artistic practices, etc. Episodes 8 to 17 were recorded while I was at the Creative Climate Leadership USA course in Arizona in March 2020 (led by Julie’s Bicycle). Episode 18 is a compilation of highlights from these conversations.

Season 2 (March 2021 – ) explores the concept of reality and is about accepting reality, working through ecological grief and charting a path forward. The first episode of season 2 (e19 reality) mixes quotations from 28 authors with field recordings from simplesoundscapes and from my 1998 soundscape composition, Au dernier vivant les biens. One of my findings from this episode is that ‘I now see, and more importantly, I now feel in my bones, ‘the state of things as they actually exist’, without social filters or unsustainable stories blocking the way’. e19 reality touches upon 7 topics: our perception of reality, the possibility of human extinction, ecological anxiety and ecological grief, hope, arts, storytelling and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. The rest of season 2 features interviews with thought leaders about their responses and reactions to e19 reality.

my professional services

I’ve been retired from the Canada Council for the Arts since September 15, 2020 where I served as a senior strategic advisor in arts granting (2016-2020) and manager of the Inter-Arts Office (1999-2015). My focus in (quasi) retirement is environmental issues within my area of expertise in arts and culture, in particular in acoustic ecology. I’m open to become involved in projects that align with my values and that move forward environmental concerns. Feel free to email me for a conversation : claude@conscient.ca

acknowledgement of eco-responsibility

I acknowledge that the production of the conscient podcast / balado conscient produces carbon. I try to minimize this carbon footprint by being as efficient as possible, including using GreenGeeks as my web server and acquiring carbon offsets for my equipment and travel activities from BullFrog Power and Less.

a word about privilege and bias

While recording episode 19 ‘reality’, I heard elements of ‘privilege’ in my voice that I had not noticed before. It sounded a bit like ‘ecological mansplaining’. I realize that, in spite of good intentions, I need to work my way through issues of privilege (of all kinds) and unconscious bias the way I did through ecological anxiety and grief during the fall of 2020. My re-education is ongoing.

Go to conscient.ca

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