Story from Sound

Creative dating…

Creative relationships bear all the same qualities as a emotional and romantic relationships.

You go into them with the same impulse, to share something intensely personal over an extended period of time, and during which you expose yourself, make a fool of yourself and become dependent on each other – and in the course of them you work out who the other person really is… well you get a very good idea of who they are.

Finding someone to work with, who you click and gel with is like finding a life partner – something that only happens a few times in your life.  You’ll work with all sorts of people, and some of them will pretend to like you if there is money involved, that’s always the case, but someone who you carry with you – from project to project – that’s rare.  Not impossible of course…

I’m thinking about this issue because I’m working with a variety of people at the moment, and it feels, just now – like I’m engaged in creative dating.  Trying people out – edging round each other – wondering if we can take things forward.  We meet for coffees, exchange emails – make plans – with the hope that it will lead to something more.

Some people talk a good talk, you think you’re clicking – there is laughter and energy at those meetings, but then when it comes to it – they’ll slack off and become fearful of committing themselves. The creative equivalent of slouching in front of the TV with a pizza box at their feet.  Others will charm and smile, and the gaslight you through the project – jostling for control and making power grabs. I’ve just been “ghosted” by someone.  Dropped for no apparent reason just as things were getting going.

Discussing this issue in these terms makes be consider two keys points.  That creative relationships should be a two way interaction – but then if someone’s coming in on your project – working to your brief… then you have to leave them space to breath, make sure they know that their contribution is valid and respected.  The other thing is to be careful about walking the line between pragmatism and exploitation. To not expect perfection from others, but also to let go of people if they aren’t committed or are bringing a project down (something I’m terrible at).

Of course – as noted above – all these issues are slowly nullified the more money is introduced into the equation (all profile…).

Just now – as I look around and try and set up new projects – it’s like I’m swipping away at a Tinder app…



Two years and breathe

It’s been over two years since that last post during which time I’ve written a book, won a lot of awards, run a course, presented a show, raised some kids and not had anywhere near enough time to consider what is going on or to have the drink I probably owe myself.

Locking into a form, as I have with podcasting and podcast drama, means that one is constantly chasing updates and news – watching transformations occur, not really scrabbling to keep abreast but rather watching and mapping change. “Ahhhh here comes the new wave.  Here come the commerce.  Now the cynicism. Now the rebirth.”  dandelion

As an academic this is exciting and vibrant, change is afoot – people are bothered, they care, they shout about the form online – arguing terms and de-marking their status.  This is good – it’s what I’ve been waiting for.  Movement and vibrancy.

Creatively though this is an interesting time. I’ve always felt that knowing too much, being aware of the history and background of every jesture you make, or every line and decision – that can be limiting. You’re not free to make decisions because you want to make them – rather you are making them with the wait of history, of your knowledge, on your shoulders.  The more you know the greater that weight – the more it can limit you.

It doesn’t always help either. The battle of creativity isn’t really to be original… it is to move people, or yourself, or make a statement that frames the world.  Being new has nothing to do with that. Critics and academics want things to be new so that we have something to write about and something to argue about.

So… as I follow all this change and write about it as an academic, I’m wondering if I’m informing myself, priming myself to create resonant work that chimes precisely with a form, or whether I’m weighing myself with expectation and knowledge.

The next few months will be interesting – and that’s why I’d like to think I’ll be able to keep this blog and map them. This combination of critical awareness, with creative needs. Will it lock me down or move me on.

Will I come out of them decided on whether I’m an artist or an academic… or just an ass!


Welcome to Night Vale, podcasting, paranoia and fandom

I interviewed Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor the creators of Wellcome to Night Vale a few weeks back for the book on podcaiphone_lock_wallpaper__welcome_to_night_vale_by_aznnerd-d6o0n7psting that Martin Spinelli and I are developing.  Speaking with them you get the sense of their being two people who are disarmingly in touch with their art, the articles they have written about the genesis of the series speak to this as well.  They just created art, wrote and produced something that they enjoyed and then hope and assumed that others would enjoy it as well.  They had no expectation that others would connect with it with such passion, and in such numbers.

I am reminded of which Kate Valk told an audience member after a performance of House/Lights at the Performing Garage in 2000.  “Who do you make work for?” she was asked.  “Ourselves”. Came the reply.  Which could be read as being arrogant, or self-centred, but also speaks of confidence and a personalised realtionship to creative production.

At this time I am working on notes and outlining a chapter about the relationship between Night Vale and their audience, I delivered a paper at Cine-ExcessX (or IX I forget) on Friday (the 13th) that centered upon this issue.  This sense of authenticity is at the heart of the relationship, Fink and Cranor spoke to it when they said that they wouldn’t countenance adaptations of their work – and conversely that they don’t engage with fan art and fiction. Is their a pact here, unspoken and unwritten between the producers and their audience?  Does that explain the bond that can exist between the two?  The sense of loyalty and community that they have engendered through a project where, apparently, they haven’t anyone to join them, to follow them… they have just produced their work and the engaged and dug in and created their work and forged their bond.

Can this relationship be found in other podcasts?  Is RadioLab authentic?  Serial?  Love and Radio?  How can it hold together as these programmes and franchises grow?  At what point does asking for fans support become exploitation?

Why shouldn’t we ever go to the dog park?

Bleeding Edge commissioned

blood_in_waterLast week I received confirmation from the Wellcome Trust that they have commissioned a new transmedia project that I’m going to be writing and producing over the next year.  I’ll be working on it with Phillip Connolly (from the University of Brighton) and will be drawing in a whole range of people to work on the digital content, music, experience design and, of course, actors, because this is a drama.

Bleeding Edge will be a thriller concerned with the commodification of blood, an examination of how blood is a product that bought and sold and subject to market forces across the world.  It is also going to address a range of experimental developments in blood science, including research synthetic blood.  We’re working with a range of experts across the UK who will inform and channel the project, ensuring that we keep on the right side of the science as we create the fiction.

Creatively its going to opportunity to re-visit the approaches I developed when working on the Flickerman, to produce something that has layers of experience and allows the audience to dig deeply into and find more and more the further they explore.  As an academic it is a chance to test how audiences engage with this sort of work, who is likely to be drawn into the experience, what sort of people they are.  The key question, framed colloquially is, what triggers that the kind of intense degree of association with a media product that people become users, the top end of the curve of engagement.  The 0.1% who drive and shape interactive projects.

Over the next year I’m going to use this blog to map the progress of this project and as a scratchpad for ideas relating to the book on podcasting that I am currently in the process of developing with Dr Martin Spinelli from the University of Sussex.

Testing testing

Nothing to see here… move along I’m just testing this site out…