I interviewed Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor the creators of Wellcome to Night Vale a few weeks back for the book on podcasting 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?