After we were paired up, Michael and I spent some time getting to know each other’s backgrounds and brainstorming ideas for our piece. Michael already had a rough concept and title in mind—A Day in the Life of a Plate. We began writing down a list of potential sounds we could collect: ambient noise from the ITP kitchen and lounge, students talking/eating, plates, cups, utensils clanking, kitchen sink running, dishwashing, etc. I suggested we throw in George muttering in contempt just for kicks.
I noticed one morning that George has this wonderfully wholesome and futuristic interaction with Alexa. Before beginning his morning ritual of unloading the dishwasher, he says to her, “Alexa, play Charlie Parker.” What follows is a duet of smooth, whimsical jazz and the sound of clean plates making their way back on the shelves. I relayed this to Michael after we regrouped and decided we had to put George front and center in our piece. We set up an interview with George and our project began taking shape:
I drafted a script and Michael and Ahmad inserted great feedback and ideas. The three of us collaborated well together, each contributing our strengths in concept, storyboarding, and execution. Our goal for this piece is to remind our ITP community to be clean and considerate of communal spaces. It is not the responsibility of others—most certainly not George’s—to clean up after you.
I have to admit, this project tested my patience multiple times. At times it felt like we weren’t getting anywhere because we kept elaborating the “concept” without a precise map/order of the edits we wanted to make to George’s interview to convey our message. I think it would have served us better if we transcribed the entire interview. The feedback we received in class was great. I agree that we should have adjusted George’s interview to stereo as opposed to mono. I definitely want to tweak the volumes during the climax so the dish clanking/running water doesn’t overpower his voice.
++Thank you to Tiri Kananuruk for letting us sample sounds from her project, “Everyday Performance” in our piece.
“The truth is that with artists pulling on one side and corporations pulling on the other, the loser is the collective public imagination from which we were nourished in the first place, and whose existence as the ultimate repository of our offerings makes the work worth doing in the first place.”
— Jonathon Lethem
“Our creativity comes from without, not from within. We are not self-made. We are dependent on one another. Admitting this to ourselves isn’t an embrace of mediocrity, derivativeness. It’s a liberation from our misconceptions. It’s an incentive to not expect so much from ourselves, and to simply, begin.”
— Kirby Ferguson
Is there such a thing as originality anymore? What does it matter? The internet, arguably the most important invention of mankind, is the by-product of human nature to share and access resources to fulfill and provoke our interests and curiosities. Rather than ordering cease and desist, we should seize inspiration, give credit where it is due, and assist each other in enhancing our collective creativity.
Over the weekend, Michael and I met up in front of St. Mark’s Church, the first stop in “Passing Stranger”, our sound walk of choice. It began as a trying exercise of constant pauses and plays in order to stay in sync with each other. After the third time my “smart” phone decided to recommence from the very beginning, we decided to share a pair of ear buds and walk about the East Village as part of some artsy three-legged race. A woman passing out flyers smiled at us and said, “I do that with my son sometimes too.”
“Passing Stranger” weaves together a chronicle of the exuberant East Village poetry scene during the 1950’s with a collection of poetry readings, interviews, and historical recordings of prominent poets such as Allen Ginsburg, Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara, Walt Whitman, E.E Cummings, and more. Truth be told, my main motivation for choosing this particular sound walk was its close proximity to my apartment in the Lower East Side. I’ve strolled through St. Marks, Tompkins Square Park, and Alphabet City countless times, but it never occurred to me that Loisaida Avenue is spanglish for the Lower East Side. I never knew about its rich Latin culture, identity, and history prior to gentrification. I never bothered to look up at murals and pay attention to all that’s left—small plaques mounted outside the former residences of poets, and the cafes/bars/restaurants they frequented. The walk didn’t spark my interest in poetry by any stretch, but it was a good reminder to slow down from time to time and appreciate my environment.