Collaboration. I've been wanting to involve other people in my audio pieces for a while now. (I mean, there's only so much I can stand listening to my own voice - also, I'm talking all through issues of Queer Out Here, so listeners are probably also sick of it.) For this piece, I decided to get other voices to read pins from Queering The Map. First of all, I got the OK from Queering The Map to incorporate the content (which is submitted anonymously from people all over the world - so there's no way of getting those people's consent!), and donated my thank you payment/gift to them. Then I put a general call on Twitter for people to do the readings. That didn't work, so I approached friends of different backgrounds to help out (payment in an "I'll buy you a drink one day" currency). Guess what? Loads of people hate the sound of their own voices and don't want to read things! But a few people helped out. In addition, I wanted to include field recordings of specific places in Melbourne (or in Australia generally), and my friend Emily went out of her way to collect some for me. All of this involved a lot more interacting with people than what I've done to create audio pieces before - even typing it up in retrospect makes me feel a bit anxious!
Editing. I use GarageBand to do most of my sound production. It's there on my laptop, it's free and it does the basics. But there are definitely parts of it that I don't use because I don't know they're there or I just don't know how. For this piece, I challenged myself to try out a few new effects or design processes. I loved the pitch shift/layered voice idea that I heard in a piece called "Totality" by Mae-Li Evans with Calum Perrin (starts about 19 minutes into this episode of Short Cuts), so I thought I'd give that a bash. I wanted to learn a bit more about looping and different filters. I thought of effects I wanted to make and then googled descriptions of them +garageband to find out how to make them. Sometimes they worked well, sometimes less so - but that's all part of the learning process. I ended up limiting myself to a few effects as I didn't want the piece to end up like a PowerPoint presentation that uses every single transition effect.
Theme and structure. I have been intrigued by ideas about space and identity since I discovered queer cultural geography when I was doing my PhD, and over the last year or so there have been a number of articles I've read, or things other people have said or done that have caused me to revisit these ideas. I don't have the time or the determination needed to "do" academic work outside of the academy, but I wanted to create a piece that touched on these themes, even if it didn't delve deeply into them in an academic sense. I wanted to make something that was interesting (to me) but entertaining (to someone who might not share my niche obsessions). This piece kind of sprawls its way through four main spaces (online/inside, the woods, my memories, the map), touching on different aspects of space/queerness/trespass at each stage, moving on to the next thing without necessarily providing a summary or key argument about the last. I wanted to leave ideas open-ended, open to further conversation and exploration and criticism - something that isn't a mode that academia is particularly good at teaching (or wasn't a mode I was particularly good at learning). This openness of structure, as well as some of my openness around the content, makes me feel vulnerable. Yes, it's partly an experiment, but it's also a piece of art that I had to commit to and invest quite a bit of time and energy in. What if people think the way the piece moves through ideas is lazy or superficial?
Here's the unabridged version of my piece "A Cartography of Trespass" (also embedded below). I'd love to know what you think of it, if you find something particularly interesting, if there's something that echoes your experiences - or if it's wildly different. As I said in my notes for Queer Out Here, "This is a conversation opener rather than a definitive statement: my experiences and thoughts on this topic come from a position of white, able bodied and relative class privilege. Other people in other places will have very different relationships to space, place and trespass - and I would love to hear responses in that vein in a future issue."