Vivaldian Palindromes and Facebook Victories

May 29th, 2011 | by Jennifer Brandel | Series:

On Saturday morning Canadian producers Sarah Boothroyd gave us conferencees a treat: she took us on a trip through her mind via a piece she produced about time. And for the few facebook poo-pooers out there left, you might like to know that her hefty prize-winning radio piece was born out of a random facebook opportunity.

Boothroyd came across a contest posted on Colin Black’s radio art group a year or so back (click the link! you should join it!). And you know how this ends, she won a trip to Paris and Geneva and ate crepes and enjoyed the special brand of respect that only comes from sophisticated European audiences who know how to talk about sound art. Boothroyd says of her entry that it taught her to always submit work for contests because, “you never know what the jury is looking for, who’s on the jury and what others are submitting.”

So if you have 20 odd minutes on hand, and some good speakers or headphones, we encourage you to dive into this aural cosmos. The mix was made for 8 speakers, but you may have to settle for stereo…

Moving toward the consciousness photo

“All About Time” was born out of the tension between science fact and science fiction. Boothroyd envisioned time as “a kind of space, a kind of a new dimension.” And she wanted to illustrate this by creating a picture piece, but where the pictures are of sound. That’s because it’s extra hard to win a radio contest with drawings.

Boothroyd Drawing

She thought of her piece in terms of a film – opening it up with an establishing shot, zooming in for close-ups and taking visual chances on the ear– like trying to translate time-lapse photography into sonic form. She said the ear has a much harder time grasping the leaps between the lapses than the eye does. She accomplishes this effect through the sounds of life forms in the order in which they appeared on earth… from fish and plants to dinosaurs and rats through to sounds made by humans.

Lego-lution image

Using a ton of pieces sifted and winnowed from and pairing her own voice on top when she needed a narrative bridge, she designed a piece to engage the listener’s temporal sense, too as certain characters come in and out of the piece. And in doing the piece Boothroyd noticed just how ubiquitous references to time are – that we mention something about time in nearly every sentence.

For this piece Boothroyd says she had access to someone who would tirelessly, endlessly mix and remix and retrack whatever she needed: herself. She uses her voice in many layers throughout the piece, which is a new thing for her. She says over half of her experiments end up on the drawing room floor. That’s good news for those of us who doubt every decision we make in editing.

Boothroyd photo

“A crucial element in storytelling is knowing what not to make immediately clear. Then devising techniques to seduce the audience with just enough information to tease them into getting involved.” Randy Thom

A note from Sarah: Thanks to physics maven Peter Watson; clock collector Georges Royer; Morgantj and Dokashiteru for Creative Commons samples; and Himan and Melina Brown for permitting the use of CBS Radio Mystery Theatre clips. Commissioned through the Luc Ferrari Broadcast Arts Competition.

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