Street Dogs

Street Dogs
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Listen to “Street Dogs”

Matt Perry and Jake Warga sent us this piece a while back. It had a lot of heart, but we at Transom.org felt that its structure to be more suited to print than audio, so we started talking about possible revisions. Jake and Matt were interested in attempting a revised version, which we are featuring.

You can read a bit of our email exchange (and original version below) about this. Being a quasi-didactic website, we are also interested in production choices and the evolution of style, so we have also included the first version below for those zealots among you who would choose to compare and contrast.

Notes from Jake

Rob & Cheebs
Rob & Cheebs

Matt and I share an interest in public radio and have a proclivity for MiniDiscs-we met by confessing those interests. Documentary production is a solitary experience, especially when the subject matter is personal. But working together gave us the confidence that having a partner brings-the confidence to approach a group of people in public and ask if we can take them, and their dog, away for a
while to do an interview.

One of us would escort the person and start the interview, while the other would run and get the promised sandwich and dog biscuits. I was often the runner, and at the end, the photographer. When editing time came around, it was good having a partner to split-up doing transcripts and topical discussions.

Sadie & Ruckus
Sadie & Ruckus

[For the first version] We each edited 2 participants, and then I did the master editing at home on my own time, sharing with Matt as I finished larger sections. We went back out and, based on what I felt we needed, get street sounds and street musicians to accompany the story. For a few weeks, we each carried a recorder in hopes of capturing a musician or assorted sounds. It took a while since he works and I was in school full time. For subject matter like this, having a partner was a good idea. We have no future collaborations planned-each doing our own stories-but still support each other with the web site and playing sections of our own projects for comment, encouragement and support as needed.

-Jake

Notes from Matt

On a strictly practical level, I would say that Jake took a slight lead in some of the production tasks — editing, recording music etc. while I took a slight lead in writing and conducting interviews. These are just general characterizations of how it worked. There was no strict division of labor, and we did both do a little bit of everything.

Blue
“Blue” in downtown Seattle

The general concept of the piece, and its overall organization were decided by agreement between us. I am beginning to see this as a weakness. The piece needed a stronger focus, and I think that in the course of accommodating each other’s visions, favorite tape, and editing styles, we may have ended up with a watered-down hybrid of what each of us would have produced on our own. This is a challenge that we will have to address when we next collaborate.

For now, we are each working on a couple of stories independently. I am working on a couple of things. One is the story of people who have recovered and are recovering from sexual addiction, and the other about corporate rent-a-cops in downtown Seattle.

Tech

About how we recorded: The story was recorded on a Sony MZ-R70 mini-disc recorder. We edited it using the free version of pro-tools, with some help from SoundEdit16 for Macintosh. We are a 100% freeware/shareware operation. This is mostly a matter of financial necessity, but is also in part an ideological choice. We want radio to remain an open medium – a person shouldn’t have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to begin producing. We
certainly didn’t. That said, we really do need to come up with some money to upgrade our mics. The ones we have right now are atrocious. Our $80 stereo mic does ok at collecting background noise and some music, but the poor old omni mic we used for the interviews was purchased for about $30 at Radio Shack and certainly sounds like it.

Interviewing

Producer Matt Perry interviewing Stray
Producer Matt Perry interviewing Stray

We were somewhat surprised that interviewing street people was no more difficult than interviewing anyone else. There were certain challenges of course, but these we were usually able to turn into opportunities. For example, since our interviews took place outside (mostly in public parks), there were quite a few interruptions. Several times, friends of the people we were interviewing came up and started talking to us during the interviews. On at least three occasions during Sadie’s interview, she was approached by people either offering or requesting drugs. These incidents produced interesting tape, and we included them in the piece where possible. There was also the matter of the dogs. The participants had to manage being interviewed and watching over their pets at the same time. Stray’s dog Jax in particular seemed to want to run around the park and nearby road. We were able to get some good tape of Stray yelling after Jax to come back to where we were sitting.

Rob
Rob

Overall, we found that the people who agreed to participate were eager to talk to us. It should perhaps go without saying that we did not pay them for their participation (although one of them asked for payment), but we did share our sandwiches with them (and their dogs). However, the intensity, warmth and length of their responses to our questions leads me to believe that the homeless kids we interviewed were speaking because they wanted to be heard, and not for any other reason.

Aside

The university district has in recent years enacted some drastic (and possibly unconstitutional) local ordinances targeted directly at homeless kids who tend to congregate on certain streets. These laws ban sitting or lying down on the sidewalks or in doorways, and the Seattle Police have taken to enforcing them with draconian strictness. Two weeks after moving to Seattle I was cited and briefly detained by a couple of officers for sitting on the ground in front of a University district falafel shop while eating my lunch. Laws like this are the business community’s way of telling homeless people, and their pets, to move on to some other neighborhood. That they do; when I first lived in Seattle, the Belltown neighborhood (directly north of downtown Seattle) was a Mecca for homeless folks. Nowadays it is almost completely devoid of them; gentrification, city ordinances and shelter closings have seen to that.


Street Dogs: Original Version

Comments on First Version of Street Dogs (email)

Jake Warga

About
Jake Warga

Jake Warga started in radio by recording his friends and sending the stories to Transom. After graduate school in London for visual anthropology (he’s still not exactly sure what the study is) he returned to Seattle where he continued his dabbling in radio. Now he’s a photographer, writer and freelance journalist. With microphone and camera he’s traveled to places common and exotic to photograph the destinations for PR, travel industry and stock agencies. A retrospective of his African portraits is now on view at the Seattle Art Museum. He sends radio pieces off to shows like All Things Considered, The World, Studio 360 and always Hearing Voices. You can learn more about Jake and his work at his website jakewarga.com.

Matt Perry

About
Matt Perry

I run the half price ticket booths in Seattle. The place where I work most often is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, slightly east of Downtown, and home to a large population of transient street kids. Sadie, Stray and Rob all hang out in this neighborhood. Sonic was a resident of the other major street-kid haven in town; that's the University District, located around the University of Washington campus, about 2 miles northeast of downtown Seattle.

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  • Jay Allison

    8.09.01

    Reply
    Street Dogs

    You don’t hear the collage form on the air as much as you once did. Creative radio is more story-driven these days. But not all of Life’s Information organizes itself well into narrative.

    Matt Perry and Jake Warga have given us a chance to hang out in a niche world that’s unfamiliar to most. It’s a fragmented, unruly place with its own logic and lack of it.

    We’d be interested to hear what you take away from “Street Dogs.”

    Check out the Show page for more background from Matt and Jake. If you’re game, we hope you’ll also listen to the original version and check out the slide show. What do you think of the different approaches, different uses of the Web presentation – scrapbook vs. slideshow, literary version vs. dance mix. What relationship forms between voice and image? (Damn, this is like SCHOOL.)

  • Eric Nuzum

    8.14.01

    Reply
    Nice piece

    Matt and Jake–

    I really enjoyed this piece and think you’ve done a laudable job of taking the interviews and turning them into a logical piece.

    I’m a big fan of "self-narrated" documentaries, and felt that was what you were trying with this piece. I’m not sure it would work as well as it might if you included your thoughts, reflections, and guidance. Some stories work well as self-narratives, others don’t. I usually find that self narratives work best when telling a narrative story–something linear.

    I thought of this when I tried the slideshow version of the story–those pictures tell a story–which indicates there was more to the story that I want to hear. I wanted to get to know these people a bit more. I could have guessed that these people love their dogs, but I want to know about them.

    Other than that, you guys did a terrific job of collecting good interviews and showed good editorial and technical sense in cutting them together and mixing your piece.

    Best, –Eric Nuzum

  • Joshua Barlow

    8.15.01

    Reply
    Atomic Work, Dawgs

    I too am a big fan of the self narrative. As each of the subjects had a unique way of expressing themselves (both vocally and emotionally), the weaving in between speakers flowed very nicely. On my first listen, there were a couple moments in the first half where it took me a moment to catch who was speaking.

    Like Eric, as the piece progressed I found myself wanting to know more about the people speaking. Sadie talked a bit about her involvement w/ drugs, but I wanted to know a bit more about how these people ended up on the street. At the same time, I could see how further details into their personal circumstances might end up overshadowing the relationship with their dogs, which is the focus of the piece.

    My question to Matt & Jake is whether or not that was a deliberate editorial decision? If so, was it made before the interviews were done, or later as you were piecing it together?

  • alfredo

    8.16.01

    Reply
    Other side of the coin (pardon me)

    A few "tech" notes.

    I have no idea what these folks used to create the slide show (Director, Videoshop, Primiere, or other) but considering the range of the range of transitions available, the piece could use something more than the generic crossfade. I also think that inserting themselves in the piece, especially shoving a mic into the subjects face is not a good idea…it contributes to the sense that the piece is narcissistically about the producers themselves…Lavs are not that expensive.

    Except for the artificially empathetic tone, it might have been interesting to cut away to a pile of dog **** when reflecting on the sign. There are just too many charitable places to stay (and eat) these days, Salvation Army, Goodwill, and St. Vincent DePaul to get behind a great deal of sympathy for street people (speaking from experience).

    As someone who has produced numerous pieces himself, I do think the dimension of video adds very much to the piece (picture speaks louder…). Using a computer for playback allows one to enjoy the medium (and the product) so much more. Imagine clicking your way to Transom.org and finding nothing there but sound. Imagine going to a film and having only sound…

  • Matt Perry

    8.16.01

    Reply
    feedback! cool!

    Thanks Eric, Joshua and Alfredo for the feedback … I will try to address some of what you have raised.

    When this piece aired originally it contained some narration, and had a different focus than the shorter collage of a story that is featured here. (Jay graciously allowed us to stream this earlier version here too — see the title page if you’d like to compare the two versions … ) But as we re-worked the story, it naturally became (as Joshua noticed), all about the relationships these kids have developed with their dogs.

    There are a couple of reasons why I’m glad that we were able to maintain this focus. One was that there have been many many stories about homelessness over the years, and to add one more to the pile would not be to add anything new. The realities of being a homeless person are fairly well known, albeit in a rather secondhand way, by most people. Another story about the difficulties of homeless life stuck me as redundant. A second reason for restricting our focus was that the particular fact that so many of these kids in Seattle have dogs was a substantive local issue. It keeps them out of the many available shelters that Alfredo mentioned. Not many people understand why — despite the high price — these kids still choose to own dogs. They can’t get housing, they are ridiculed, and they have another mouth to feed. Speaking for myself, I did this piece to answer that question, and the most direct route to that answer seemed to me to be sticking to the nature of the relationship between these kids and their pets.

    Self narration just seemed to happen. As I said, we originally added narration, but it seemed to get in the way of what these people had to say. It seemed to interrupt the musical flow.

    Just some thoughts.

    -Matt
    Soundstory.org

  • Jay Allison

    8.18.01

    Reply
    Slideshow

    Granted , I’m a Radio Boy, but I had a stronger experience listening to this tape in the car than I did with the Internet slide show. And I liked looking at the pictures in silence.

    The still pictures and the audio are separate. One lives in space, the other in time. Putting them together pulled me halfway out of both. It made me want the pictures to tell the story and kept the story from giving me pictures.

  • Viki Merrick

    8.19.01

    Reply
    DOG BREATH

    I listened to the final version, then the first and skipped the slideshow mostly. Here’s what happened.

    Either I was in a really bad mood or just being a "jaded bitch" and had problems following, willingly. Even though I "knew" what the ultimate issues of homeless people with dogs might signify – it still irked me. I like dogs – but I couldn’t get behind the "dogs first" thing – given everyone’s situation.

    I didn’t get to finish listening the first time. But the 2nd time, I listened, more patiently, and found myself moving or evolving along with the piece. I had my own moving visuals going in my head ( no need for photos or videos – though they are good photographs – they don’t encompass the story, they don’t evolve or reveal).

    Ira Glass disciples like to talk about change being a primary ingredient to a good story. Well, does it count if it is the listener who changes? By the end of the story I’m thinking, yeah, I’d have a dog too and screw the shelters. I even felt like a jerk for my first feelings. Love that.

    Comparing the 2 versions – I preferred the 2nd version – stronger hits – smelled more like dog breath EXCEPT there were some cuts from the 1st I would have kept just to juxtapose the human experience these people encounter vs the dog one – maybe just one or two – not to stray from focus but to enhance, with just one more beat, the fact that the dog is not just a warm furry companion with a beating heart. And a little of that (non-canine background revealing stuff) goes a long way to remind everyone that life is complicated and NO ONE’s story is very straightforward. But still, the dog’s are a much better vehicle for revealing the complexities than their owners are. Just listen to the careful articulate description of the dogs…

    Narrative ? I have to say I didn’t miss it at all – the edit sequence 2nd time round provides the transpositions, somewhat like in a musical piece that pricks up your ears; like that odious guy describing the junkies and strung-out sluts into the changes seen when these kids get a dog.

    The video thing however, steals my own windows – Had I heard the piece that way first, I think it would have squelched on the my/listener’s room to move and go closer to this strange and unfamiliar campfire.

    In all, pretty great editing choices. Maybe talk a little more about the 2nd version edit sessions – how did that go down with the two of you?

  • Alfredo

    8.25.01

    Reply
    Gimme a break

    If the boys were intending to present this piece as strictly audio then Jay’s solicitous reflection might make a little more sense. Obviously anyone who chooses to experience the piece as strictly audio or video is already making an editorial decision that reinvents the piece to their own tastes…not much of a pat on the back to the boys after all. One wonders if Jay also chooses to live much of his life on the audio plane…eyes wide closed?

  • Alfredo

    8.25.01

    Reply
    uno mas

    I look at the internet as primarily a visual medium, unlike radio. I’ve really only been drawn to two Transom pieces…the only two with visual content. Try closing your eyes and reading these words Jay..writing is also a visual medium, it takes sight to partake. Again though..Jay’s from the audio side of the tracks, so he’s likely to advance that bias in the interest of self-promotion, and depreciate the other side of the tracks so as not to lose his audience. I really like Antiques Roadshow, but I would not tune it in to listen to it without video.

    g’nite

  • beedge

    8.25.01

    Reply

    enjoyed these pieces muchly.
    something about the original version moved me more.
    perhaps, cuz you got to know the people better.
    the narration in the 1st certainly should go
    (some of the identical info is repeated by intervuees),
    and it was wise to focus more on the dog-related quotes.
    but i think the focus was set a bit too narrow.
    some of the best parts of the 1st were missing in the 2nd.
    it was right for the revision to be more tightly constructed,
    but i think opportunities were missed to expand that construction
    to include, when possible, the more emotive, personal moments of the original.
    nevertheless, both versions are amongst my favorite transoms to date.

  • Joshua Barlow

    8.25.01

    Reply
    For Clarity Sake’

    When Matt and Jake submitted this piece to Transom, it was originally intended as an audio only feature. When we learned that Jake had taken a good number of photos while working on the piece, we thought it might be an interesting experiment to compare the experience of just listening to the audio to listening with a sequence of images accompanying.

    I’m a good fan of Jake’s photography. He has a good sense for subject, emotion, and composition. I found some of the photos very poignant, in fact. As far as the slideshow goes, I think because the photos were not taken to accompany the flow of the audio piece itself, they could were not able to bring more to the piece than if they had been placed simply on a Web page for browsing while the story ran. Which is to say, both were strong in their own right – but in sync did not create a larger experience than the sum of their parts.

    For the sake of clarity, I was the one who assembled Jake’s photos for this slideshow and made the editorial decision of how to sequence them. When reviewing the photos that were available and comparing it to the flow of the audio piece, I found it very hard to match photos to what was happening inside the story, so I found it neccessary to group them by subject – to give the slideshow it’s own flow. On retrospect, I think it would’ve been better to have made the slideshow separate from the audio sequence – ie, the user clicks through at his own pace, rather than have the audio dictate the pace.

    As far as Alfredo’s comments go, concerning the Internet as a visual medium – Yes, this is true, but not exclusively so. The Internet is a gateway to and convergence of several mediums in no hierarchical order. TV, print, photographic, and radio storytelling are still very different forms with separate considerations for each. While the Internet makes it very easy (and cheap) to throw all these things together in one combination or another, just because you CAN does not mean you SHOULD. The crucial question is always "Does the medium benefit the message." All the more reason I have found the discussion over whether the slideshow added to the experience of Jake and Matt’s story to be very useful. I don’t think there is any sort of medium bias going on here.

  • Jay Allison

    8.25.01

    Reply
    radio vs. video vs. photography vs. slideshows… who cares?

    I don’t think there is any sort of medium bias going on here.

    Amen. How silly it would be to insist that one sense or one medium is superior to the others. I hope that impression hasn’t gotten loose somehow here at Transom, except for the fact that this is a public radio site, after all, god forgive us.

    Perhaps Josh’s posting makes things clearer. The slideshow was an afterthought. The piece was made by Matt and Jake for radio. The photos were separate. We put ’em together and I think we did so too idly, as Josh suggests above, but it still seemed a worthwhile exercise for the discussion.

  • larry massett

    8.26.01

    Reply
    what to do with eyes

    I didn’t watch the slide show version of this piece because I’m
    accustomed to making my own images when listening to audio.
    But after a while I can’t help realizing I’m staring at a static computer screen, which becomes sort of nerve-wracking. It’s
    not just this piece (both versions of which I liked) but all audio on the net: what are you supposed to do with your eyes? We’re
    usually doing something else-driving a car, washing the dishes, etc- when we listen to radio. Not just sitting in a chair eyeballing a blank screen. Of course (bandwidth permitting) you could call up another site, or start working on something else- but that’s a bit too interesting, visually, so it becomes hard to listen,-unless you only want background music. . Seems like a weird little trap for internet audio……
    a wierdweirdle trap

  • Jay Allison

    8.26.01

    Reply
    Weirdler and Weirdler

    weird little trap for internet audio……
    a wierdweirdle trap

    I completely agree. It is indeed weirdweirdle. In fact, this whole site is predicated on the idea that somehow people will overlook this problem.

    I like radio. I don’t like listening on the Internet. I have a miserable dial-up connection and it stutters and jams. It places a screen in front of me which is irrelevant or distracting. It deletes the accidental ambush of radio, which is its real charm.

    Still, the Internet gives us a chance to be intentional about listening and to hear things we never would without it, and, more importantly here, to discuss what we heard if we’re particularly zealous or curious. We hope this will have useful repercussions among the zealous and curious. If it doesn’t, we have failed utterly and our lives have no meaning.

  • beedge

    8.27.01

    Reply

    hoping not to derail this discussion of a very fine piece into sidebars about what Transom did w/ Jake’s pics, and how to present audio online. but the latter is something i’ve worked on a bit, and for proposal purposes, have come up with this language at:

    HearingVoices.com develops creative ways to present radio on the web. Our goals are to:
    • Provide an engaging web experience — encourage visitors to stay, to listen, and to return.
    • Complement, not compete with, the sound — so visitors can explore the web page(s) and simultaneously be absorbed by the audio.
    • Use minimal bandwidth — images, animations, and web-applications should load quickly, and not interrupt the audio stream.

    examples at:
    http://hearingvoices.com/project/proposal/     (slot machine is Netscape ONLY)

  • Jay Allison

    8.30.01

    Reply
    structure

    I agree with Barrett’s earlier posting.

    The revised version, to my ear, has a lot more sonic and structural integrity, but it lost some key framing members of the first version.

    If you were to take this further, you might consider creating a kind of pre-amble, before you even get to the dogs, which builds a choral framework about the general reality of life on the streets (some of this material is in version one). This would make a context for kid/dog relationships that follow. Once the pre-amble is over, the revised version could follow pretty much as is.

    And, no matter what, that ending, about the need to give love, is a very powerful and sad moment of radio.

    Jake and Matt, I’d be interested to know: did you consider doing this piece in a "portrait" mode rather than collage, perhaps featuring only one person, or introducing several people, but centering on one?

  • Jake Warga

    8.30.01

    Reply
    Producer’s Reply

    Thank you all for your comments. There’s been neat surfacing of topics: visual vs. aural…and I gave you both.

    Jay- our intentions were minimal, we made a list of questions and worked off those. "Portrait?" it became apparent that most of our subjects were unable to hold still for long. The guys talked a lot, but didn’t really say much. I think our initial talks (at least for me) were clouded in the nervousness of doing our first voxpop interviews: taking odd strangers aside, feeding them, and asking personal questions. A "portrait" idea is nice if we found one capable of standing alone, and it would be nice to return to the same person.

    If we were to do it again, we would do lots of things differently. A few weekends pounding the pavement made for a great education in field journalism–transom has become the instructor, the comments our peers. Keep them coming.

    Joshua- Great work on the slide-show. It’s true, the photos were a great afterthought to include. Good idea about (in the future) changing it to a manual-advance show. Nothing worse than going to a slide-show of your great-aunt’s trip to Texas and not being able to skip to the next slide–trigger thumb miming a phantom clicker. I like how you made new slides from punching-in to the ones I sent you. Keep breaking new ground. I kept images out of my last story for some of the reasons discussed above, and am a firm believer in the producer’s capability of description, and the audience’s imagination. But this story was improved, I feel, by including photos.

  • Adam Tinkoff

    8.31.01

    Reply
    I liked the photos very much.

    I too agree that the story was improved by including the photos – which were absolutely great in their own merits. This entire effort is a great example of weaving together several communication technologies – and coming out with some thing unique and altogether moving. The cool part is that it was done with affordable technologies that are almost in everyone’s reach.

    Great job and I really hope that more people are inspired by projects like this one to go out iwith readily available tools to capture and share the unique environments around them.

    Thanks,
    Adam Tinkoff

  • Chris Butterfield

    8.31.01

    Reply
    An English Perspective

    Dear Matt and Jake,

    Congratualtions for tackling a very difficult subject in a sensitive manner. Maybe it was an unintended spin off , but I like the way you’ve reflected the owners humanity in the way they talk and care about their dogs.

    From an English point of view have you thought of taking the piece where the lady talks about "investing" in her dog, from the end of the piece and moving it right to the beginning. It kind of sums up the piece in the first one or two sentences, and makes me want to hear more. I found the tapping sticks (at the beginning of the piece) distracting, my mind wanting to wonder off and figure out what the noise was, instead of listening to the piece as a whole. The other pieces of music helped establish the context of the commentary.

    Looking forward to hearing your next piece.

    Regards,

    Chris

  • Viki Merrick

    9.04.01

    Reply
    Photos speak

    I liked the photos very much. Over in Nubar’s topic we’re waiting for more words about photo-narrative and while I may be in limbo – your photgraphs confirm to me that photographs carry their own narrative – collected together under the canopy of STREET DOGS – I may have come up with some similair stories that we hear in the audio – maybe – but certainly there are plenty of stories within them alone. I just can’t hear them all when the audio is on because in the audio they are definite vehicles for another story. Jake, maybe you should make a collection with these and your Romanian street dogs, and other stories will surface.

  • Jake Warga

    9.05.01

    Reply
    DAWGS

    I do have a lot of dog photos. I’ve traveled to E.Europe, Europe, and Africa. I like shooting dogs because they don’t ask for money, but really, I think that if you can judge a society by the way it treats its prisoners, then the same can be said about how it treats its dogs. It’s a backdoor to understanding the larger culture they occupy…a transom?

  • Matt Perry

    9.05.01

    Reply
    Some comments …

    My apologies to all for my absence during this discussion. I’ve been happily backpacking in the North Cascades for 10 days (oh we here in Seattle are so lucky). But now it’s back to the real world.

    Thank you all immensely for your comments and questions. It’s a rewarding feeling to open this page and find that the conversation has experienced a minor explosion.

    I will have to weigh in on the side of those who think that the photos enhance the story … although I should say that am am incredibly biased in all of this, since a) I know jake and adore his photography, and b) the photos tend to evoke different thoughts in me than I imagine they do in most people. ie — the photo of Stray with his dog casting shadows makes me think of how difficult it was to get him to sit down in one place for any length of time, the photo of me sitting and interviewing stray reminds me of his rather strong odor … the photo of sadie with her dog in her lap reminds me of how she trembled from lack of heroin during the whole interview and how I havn’t seen her around the neighborhood in over a year.

    Original version vs. new version: My point of view is that the original version of this story served the purpose for which it was made (most of a 1/2 hour segment on a documentary series). The new version of the story is more of an exercise — and a useful one … one that allowed us a chance to look at what tape we had, and cut to the essence of the main story. But those who have commented that much is missing from the shorter version are certainly correct. We got to know much more (sometimes, we felt, TOO much) about each of the participants than we could ever reveal in a sub-20-minute piece. But the story is not supposed to be about the personalities involved — at least not directly. If, as Jay has pointed out, we were going for more of a portrait effect, I think we would have done some things very differently. Concentrating on one person would certainly have been an option … We could have gone the "day in the life" route … following the person for 24 hours or something like that. But as Jake said, we were young and clueless back then … and in the end we did the best that we could.

    There are other issues that people have raised, and I will comment more on them very soon… THANKS again for all the feedback!

    -Matt

    soundstory.org

  • Jay Allison

    9.10.01

    Reply
    Tip

    Recently received this tip toward the Utne Reader site…

    The dogs are roaming:

    http://www.utne.com/webwatch/archive.tpl?d=9/7/2001

  • Susan Jenkins

    12.31.01

    Reply
    Quiet photographs and blank Transom experiments

    "Imagine clicking your way
    to Transom.org and finding nothing there but sound."

    Now that would be a cool experiment!

    Imagine calling your telephone company’s elaborate voicemail system only instead of the usual Press 1 for billing, Press 2 for customer service, you press keys to get different audio experiences? Navigating an audio-only world of stories and sounds. I’m sure it’s been done. Hasn’t it?

    There could be a black Transom page with voice/key driven navigation and content.

    I just enjoyed Street Dogs for the first time. I went straight for the slide show version. Because we have DSL here at work I tend to do my internet listening here. I find it hard to concentrate though, because of what Larry Massett says about wanting to find something to do with my eyes. Closing them doesn’t work. It’s not enough to lie on the floor in front of the computer and stare at the ceiling either…I want to be in the familiar and radio-conducive theater of my home (car), where I can permit myself to be "ambushed".

    This office has its own radio-conducive theatricality, but since I don’t sleep here (usually) it has a different character. But I digress.

    I find the photographs enrich the piece, as a sensory experience. In the same way that music and sound effects (or silence) enhance voice tracks, the symphony of storytelling can accomodate The Image in a way that doesn’t make the image dominate. I think it must always come down to balance–how to manipulate that intricate and sensitive receiving device the human body. There are ways in which images can distract from listening, but I don’t get that here. I got other pictures in my head based on the stories, the pacing, and sounds of the audio, which complemented the on-screen visuals, which provided a place to focus my eyes. The photographs are quiet enough to allow the sound-generated images to filter through and layer themselves into the mix. We all know that listening is not a passive activity.

    Quiet photographs–imagine that.

    The experience of listening without the images is different–not better or worse, just a different piece…a different experience. Sometimes you want the malt in your milkshake, sometimes you just want the milk.

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