Intro from Jay Allison: Radio students from all over the country, plus Canada and Australia, came to live on Cape Cod for a couple of months to attend the Fall 2012 Transom Story Workshop. Rob Rosenthal and Sarah Reynolds ran the class with dedication, and made sure the students came away with skills enough to craft lovely pieces… which they did. The students found remarkable stories sitting under the noses of us who’ve been living here for decades. Come listen. It’s impressive to hear such work from a group of people just starting out, and it’s encouraging too, because there’s bound to be more of it.
About “Mapping Mark”
While I was in the glorious feedback womb that is the Transom Story Workshop, I wanted to take advantage of the space to do something a bit more experimental. I’ve always been fascinated by psychogeography and how place shapes us, so I thought I’d explore making a “sonic map.” When I proposed this idea in class, Rob Rosenthal reminded me that I’d have to find the larger narrative in a more sound-arty piece. A much more challenging prospect than making some sort of soundtrack of the coast-life on Cape Cod. To bring some focus to this idea, I found Cape Cod National Seashore cartographer and artist Mark Adams to guide me through his own personal journeys on the Cape. The man knows secret spots and trails, but finds real excitement in all the details of nature and our relationship with it.
This is to Mark’s benefit as an artist, but as for getting tape, it was tricky to decipher where the “tension” was on these journeys that would propel the story forward. People are complicated and pulling out threads of their psyche while trying to guide a listener on a geographic journey through sound…well, things can get complex. And naively, I thought that amidst this complexity, I could just make my piece non-narrated. “Why does my nature guide need me as a guide?” I thought. But remembering that I was a writer before coming to this workshop (and through the gentle nudging of my teachers) I embedded myself into the story more deeply using my voice to create a clearer path for the listener. And to my surprise, it felt awesome to be more in control, with the help of my writing. I learned that sometimes you have to step in and wrangle the tape with narrative of your own. Get a grip!
Finally, I abandoned the idea of needing to have one fluid narrative and instead created a series of vignettes punctuated through different sound design. The idea was to represent each location on the map and to reveal a little bit of Mark’s psyche along the way. With so many audio initiatives popping up to capture local stories on a digital landscape, I’d like to keep experimenting with “sonic mapping.” Next time, it might be an interactive journey of my own experience in a place.
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