Friday, September 28, 2012
Next Week: I will revisit my friend for an interview in a more comfortable setting. I will conduct another interview as well. I will visit Detroit and meet with people, and hopefully find a niche. I will try to find resolution in my sound piece and explore the possibility of re-interviewing those people again (if I can track them down). I will edit my tape into three different ways of telling the same story. I will do good on all of these things. Feels nice to write it.
The wonderful thing about working in sound is the chance to renew all of the past challenges I've had, and approach them differently each time. While I know that holds true for many mediums, it's easy to get into a way of making and cling to it. But with sound, you always have that "x" variable. What is the person going to say? How will they react? Will the wind be on my side today? What if she doesn't speak, or what if he won't shut up? What will it take for them to be totally honest? I faced new challenges this week like I do each time I record, but this time it was personal. When my friend's father passed away this summer, I was the first one she told. I packed her things, I picked out the dress she'd wear to his funeral, I drove her to the airport. Though I'd like to think she only loves me more for these things, I can't help but think that she gets a faint tinge of pain remembering that dreadful moment each time she sees me. I didn't ask her to relive that day, but rather to tell a memory of spending time with her father. A funny thing happened though--she told it to me as if she were reading a children's book, showing me each illustrated page with a smile on her face, and a singsong voice. Had I not known my old roommate very well, I wouldn't have known she was putting up a barrier for all the pain she was feeling. Sometimes, the people you think will be so simple to record turn out to be the most difficult. Here is my new challenge, a discovery that has taken me aback before pushing me forward: Make it feel okay, when everything is telling her it's not.
This week I did a lot of learning and brainstorming. I researched various artists, looked through books and journals, and listened to sound. I tried to pinpoint how to approach my three directions for our next assignment, and found it difficult since I've been thinking in such large and final terms. After a meeting with Professor Rowden, and some careful consideration began to sketch out what I thought might be three ways to approach my medium and three ways to present a story. Like I said last post, I needed some raw material. I originally intended on asking a stranger, but after lunch with an old friend whose father just passed away over the summer, I realized she had some important stories to tell. I am not totally satisfied with the initial interview I had with her, so I am going to her house later today to see if she will be a bit more comfortable opening up. I worked on my sound piece from last week, but admittedly it is still quite unresolved. Most importantly, I began to understand what it is that intrigues me about the work I am doing, and explore what will make the process most meaningful for me.
Friday, September 21, 2012
I realized that last week, my "next" post quickly became daunting and unmanageable. That was because many of my ideas were vague and assumed instead of based in concrete progress. This week I want to take notes on every book I have checked out (including the ones from our class browsing trip.) I want to make a new draft (or two, or three) of the sound piece I've been working on, and I want to sit down for an interview with someone to talk about something. I say this part vaguely only because I want to have a conversation with someone whose name I may not know, and whose story will be of their choosing. I want to do this really just to practice. I'm not plotting any master plan or intimidating endeavors like I proposed last week. Instead I just want (and need) to practice. I think that's okay, too.
While piecing together this rough cut of a new sound piece, I learned an important lesson: You can't force discovery. While transcribing my interviews last week, I came across two that seemed to mirror each other in a strange way. Both interviewees had squeezed into beds with their siblings in childhood; however one was out of necessity and the other for fun. My natural instinct was to splice them together, to reveal this relationship to the listener (as you'll hear in the rough draft below). What I realized afterwards though was that it loses something when the relationship is spelled out. I've left nothing to the imagination, and no chance for the listener to forge these connections on their own as I did. Discovery is one of my favorite parts of the process, and yet if I can not allow that sensation to my listener, then what have I really accomplished? I have an interesting new task for next week-discovering what makes discovery. I can't wait.
This month, according to my religion, it is customary to be honest in your wrongdoings. So, in the spirit of the season, I have to admit that my productivity was less than ideal this week. That is not to say I accomplished nothing, but I know I am capable of more. It has been a bit frustrating in these first few weeks, as I am so excited to really begin work on my installation, but logistics unfortunately take longer than I would like to come together. What I did do this week, was spend a good chuck of time at the library. I tend to lose track, but I want to say about two hours went by. I gathered several books and journals on housing initiatives in Detroit, Detroit community statistics, as well as installation art history, and site specific work. My work always feels more legitimate and, in a way, personal, when I am able to ground in within the framework of history or the context of some larger and greater thing. Naturally I spent some time reading those finds as well. I spent several hours (maybe 5?) messing around with the two interviews I had become drawn to last week. I did take the time to begin mapping out some long term goals for myself as well. I also went back to look at my past work, just to see if there was anything I wanted to revisit or anything I didn't realize I was already revisiting. Finally, I booked my first Detroit adventure for next Friday, and I could not be more thrilled with the project I have the honor of being a part of with Professor Tobier, Charlie Michaels, and graduate student Roilando Palaccio. My participation will give me fantastic insight, experience, and hopefully open the door to finding the material I need for my installation.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Goals for this week are to plan out deadlines for myself for the rest of the year (or at least the next few months?) and solidify where in Detroit I will be spending my time. If I can determine where I will be putting my installation as well that would be ideal, but that might not be for a few more weeks, until I get "settled" into a neighborhood. I want to complete the sound piece inspired by revisiting my bedroom material, which splices together two very similar similar accounts from vastly different backgrounds, and perhaps conduct another in depth interview or two for use as practice/experimentation. I'd like to visit the library and check out a couple of books on Detroit communities and history as well. Finally, I'd like to start planning for another longer piece made up of multiple interviews, by determining a topic, writing up a list of specific and evocative questions, and setting up times to hold interviews.
I did a few things I normally don't do. First, I transcribed interviews, which for me is typically counter-intuitive, but I found it really meaningful and helpful. I found that I was noticing lines that were really poignant that I had skimmed over the first time around. By seeing the writing in text I began to notice parallels and interesting contrasts between some of the interviews I had conducted. Next, I drew illustrations based on what I had transcribed. I have always enjoyed drawing, but never thought about pursuing it for an IP project. In the end, I discovered that I wasn't nearly as passionate about drawing as I am about sound, but I am still satisfied that I gave it a try, and now I don't have to wonder "what if". Overall, I think I gained some valuable tools for approaching my IP. It is easy to capture a really beautiful story, and present it as is. However, to revisit, rediscover, and truly craft the story into something unique and memorable can take a piece from beautiful to captivating.
This week I started to lay the ground work for a sound installation in Detroit. I am, by nature, a planner, and so I already know all of the pieces I will need to put it all together. I had a meeting with Nick Tobier, who does a lot of work and a lot of good in Detroit. Together, we brainstormed my approach to making this project a reality, and what it would take to document a community with the utmost respect and legitimacy. Following that I researched arts initiatives in Detroit and determined what I could possibly trade to community members in exchange for their stories and memories. I spent a few hours this week emailing people that are involved in different art projects in Detroit, as well as professors and colleagues that may be able to help in my search for a venue. Lastly, I transcribed around 20 interviews from my sound piece about childhood bedrooms, paying attention to the words and imagery over the sound quality. I created 3 pen drawings with text to illustrate the lines that stood out to me the most.