conscient podcast

40 Episodes

By: Claude Schryer

Canadian composer Claude Schryer's learning journey about art and the ecological crisis : conversations, newsletters and/or sound creations. Season 1 : environmental awareness and action Season 2 : reality and ecological grief Season 3 : radical listening Season 4 : sounding modernity - weekly 5 minute sound meditations Voir 'balado conscient' pour la version en français.

e113 soundwalk (part 2) - how can we deepen our listening?
Last Sunday at 10:51 AM

(Jacek Smolicki)

The ultimate question I'm asking is how can we move away from soundwalk as a kind of framed aesthetic experience or artistic experience and turn it into an existential practice or basically something that is just ingrained in our everyday life and we don't have to frame it anymore. It's just basically part of our way of living. 

(Claude Schryer)

Can you give an example of that? 

(Jacek Smolicki)

An academic example would be the concepts developed by Steven Feld, acoustemology, where basically listening, a kind of so...

e113 soundwalk (part 1) - what is my position in listening ?
Last Sunday at 10:50 AM

(Claude Schryer)

Jacek, what is soundwalking? 

(Jacek Smolicki)

That's a very broad question, but I'll try to answer from two perspectives: my own and from what is kind of more generally considered soundwalking. So, to quote Hildegard Westerkamp, one of the pioneers of that practice, basically, a soundwalk is any kind of excursion into an environment which is motivated by us listening to it. Whether we do it with or without technologies or whether we do it on our own or in a group and the point of soundwalking is to connect or r...

e112 listening - how can listening help ?

(various layered excerpts from my soundscape compositions throughout this episode)


Conclusion 1 : we need to face reality and learn how to unlearn

Mayer Hillman, e01: ‘We’re doomed. The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so.’Joan Sullivan, e01 terrified ‘even if we are doomed, and I think we are, I refuse to do nothing...

e111 traps - what are the traps in your life?

(bell, breath and occasional balloon sounds)

Me : have you ever had the feeling that you were being observed?

Observer : I’m observing you. 

Me: Who are you and what are you observing? 

Observer: Ah, well, I’m a part of you and  I’m observing the traps that you fall into.

Me:  Traps?

Observer : Do you remember the Facing Human Wrongs course you took during the summer of 2022

Me: Ya.

Observer: The one about navigating paradoxes and complexities of social and global change and all th...

e110 drain - where does your bathwater go?

(sound of bath draining, at first with a strong oscillating rhythm followed by water flowing and silence)

It goes down the drain (again) and into the sewer system to be processed and dumped into the Ottawa river, then it evaporates into the sky and it rains back into our lakes and rivers, bringing with it with many pollutants, and then is pumped into our homes, in our bodies and heated until… (repeated and improvised)

Where does your bathwater go? 


The rhythm comes from this sound of my bathtub draining, which occurs fro...

e109 being - how can we listen through art?

(bell and breath)

On December 19th, 2022 I read David Maggs’ Art and the Ouija Board? blog, as part of his Metcalf Foundation Fellow on Arts and Society.

I was struck by this section in particular:

Like a Ouija board or a dowsing wand, art is the capacity to pay attention to the world in unusual ways, a capacity to attend to the world in terms of the aesthetic. To make sense of life through lines, shapes, patterns, forms, colours, textures, rhythms, harmonies, imagery, and more. As Canadian poet Don McKay puts it, “Poetry returns from...

e108 2048 - what speculative fiction stories inhabit you?

(Sound of fire)

This is another fireside storytelling episode, this time by a wood stove at our cottage. Thanks for joining me. Pull up a chair… 

As I mentioned in episode 106, sometimes, when I get discouraged I like to build a fire, like this, to lift my spirits and to re-energize. 

(Sound of fire) 

Today’s story is an excerpt from Part 1, Warm Up : Into The Future from Vanessa Andreotti’s Hospicing Modernity book, written by the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective. I first heard this story, in audio form, while driving t...

e107 harm - what do you not know?

(bell and breath)

Today's episode does not have any sound other than my voice and a series of silences.  And I think you’ll understand why in a minute.


Writer and broadcaster Jesse Wente, author of Unreconciled, became the first indigenous person to chair the Canada Council for the Arts during the summer of 2020, a few weeks before I retired from the Council. 


In an August 6, 2020 interview with the Toronto Star, I was deeply moved by what Jesse said. 

The way I view work now within colon...

e106 fire - what can we do about our collective indifference?

(bell and breath)

(sound of campfire)

I invite you to slow down, or maybe stop, what you’re doing and listen to a campfire story

We’re sitting in the snow, by the Preston River in Duhamel, Québec. The snow absorbs the sound here but it is also slightly amplified by the cottage and frozen trees. It's raining so you also hear drops of water, snow and ice falling in between the fire crackles. 

Sometimes, when I get discouraged about the ecological crisis, I build a campfire like this to lift m...

e105 rope - how did this episode make you feel?

This recording is a rope holding a boat to the dock at Toronto Harbour on November 26th, 2022. 

Sketches by Sabrina Mathews.

e104 time - what does a very small moment in a much larger space sound like?

(bell and breath)

(loud sound of train passing at close distance)

(once the train has passed, cross fade between quiet city and very quiet mountain forest)

(indigenous artist and curator France Trepanier from conscient podcast é55 trépanier - a very small moment in a much larger space, in French):

I think that with this cycle of colonialism, and what it has brought, that we are coming to the end of this cycleand with hindsight, we will realize that it was a very small moment in a much larger space, and that we ar...

e103 heat - what does decarbonization sound like to you?

(sound of bell and breath)

On December 5th 2022 we had a heat pump installed in our house in order to reduce our carbon footprint. 

What is a heat pump, you ask? Well, basically, It heats and cools a space by transferring thermal energy from the outside using a refrigeration cycle powered by electricity. 

It’s a more environmentally friendly source of heating than say methane gas but it still generates carbon through manufacturing and in the production of electricity to run it. It also does not address the fact that the highest carbon poll...

e102 aesthetics - how can we 'de-modernize' art?

(ocean shoreline)

The problem with beauty is that it can distract us from reality.

Sit with me, please, take a moment. Sit and listen… 

Over there, about 56 kilometers to the northeast, is the traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations, also known as Vancouver.

Listen to the ocean flowing, like the blood and liquids in your body. We are water.

Listen to the ravens passing by and croaking. They are poetry in motion.

Listen to the city rumbling at a distance, but it's hard to hea...

e101 tension - how do you feel now?

(Deep breath)


I was thinking about the tensions in our lives and the art of finding a balance point… 

So I went for a sound walk in Vancouver and came upon a piece of fishing line. I brought it home, strung it up and recorded myself plucking it 

(sound of fishing line being plucked by hand) 

I held the fishing line with my left hand while I gradually reduced the tension with my right hand. 

Later that day I went for another soundwalk and came upon a whit...

e00 what is sounding modernity?

Welcome to episode 0 of season four of the conscient podcast, Sounding Modernity, five-minute sound meditations, published every Sunday from January 1 through December 31, 2023. 

My name is Claude Schryer and I'm happy to be back podcasting  about art and the ecological crisis after a 10 month break.

I'm talking to you today from the unceded traditional territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation, also known as Ottawa, where my family and I are grateful to live. 

Veuillez prendre note qu’une version en français de cet épisode et de toute la saison 4 est disponible sur le canal b...

special edition : winter diary revisited (music only)

special edition: winter diary revisited (music only) is a 16-minute version of e99 and é100 without any narrative. See e99 for more information on winter diary revisited in English. édition spéciale : journal d’hiver revisité (version musique) est une version de 16 minutes de e99 et é100 sans aucune narration. Voir é100 pour plus information en francais.

é100 (b) journal d’hiver revisité – hommage à r. murray schafer (composition seulement)

Ceci est la version '40 minutes de composition seulement' de l'épisode 100 journal d'hiver revisité - hommage à r. murray schafer, destiné à ceux qui veulent écouter la composition sans l'introduction de 25 ‘ et les crédits de 3’. Voir l'épisode 100 pour les détails sur cet épisode. 

é100 journal d’hiver revisité – hommage à r. murray schafer (introduction 25′ + composition 40′ + crédits 3′)

'Que seraient les Prairies sans le vent ? C'est le son principal ici, celui par rapport auquel tout le reste est enregistré. Mais pour l'enregistrer ? Impossible.' * journal d'hiver revisité - hommage à r. murray schafer (introduction 25' + composition 40' + crédits 3') est une composition de paysage sonore qui présente des extraits d'un essai non publié que R. Murray Schafer a écrit après un voyage d'enregistrement de 10 jours qu'il a entrepris avec moi dans la campagne manitobaine en février 1997 pour la Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln (WDR). Je 'revisite' ce voyage avec une combinaison des écrits de Schafer et des nouveau...

e99 (b) winter soundscape revisited – homage to r. murray schafer (composition only)

'What would the Prairies be without wind?  It’s the keynote sound here, the one against which everything else is registered. But to record it? Impossible.'

R. Murray Schafer, winter diary, 1997

See episode 99 for details on winter diary revisited - homage to r. murray schafer and to listen to the version with a 25' introduction and 3' of credits.

Note: an article for the Institute for Music in Canada about this composition is available here : Winter Diary Revisited

e99 winter diary revisited – homage to r. murray schafer (25′ introduction + 40′ composition + 3′ credits)

Episode Notes

Barn on the farm of R. Murray Schafer and Eleanor James, Indian River, Ontario, January 19, 2022 (photo by me)

Note: the text below is a transcription of the narration in the episode (sounds are described, with their source where possible)

Welcome to episode 99 of the conscient podcast, the last episode of season 3, which you might recall was on the theme of radical listening. 

(fade in of sound of barn)

I invite you to guess what is this space. There are some sonic clues. It’s clearly an indoor space...

e98 epilogue – perspectives on season 3

'I came to realize that in season three that I continue to be very deeply moved by the layering of words and soundscapes. There's something about it, when new contexts for listening are created, that I find it very stimulating. It's like the spirits of the sounds are actually speaking directly to me and that I can hear and feel their presence. Now I've always felt this, but I rarely talk about it, because it sounds so, you know, strange or is hard to explain, but there it is. It's something that I just love doing and I'm interested to...

e97 chantal chagnon, kevin jesuino, melanie kloetzel – climate art web

'We are missing so many voices that could be the change. Art gives us that opportunity to amplify those voices and I think it's important that now, more than ever, that we amplify those marginalized voices, those racialized voices, those voices that are being directly affected with what's happening around mother earth (CHANTAL CHAGNON). An online map that showcases all the ideas, artists, institutions, projects and programs that are around this idea of climate and art intersecting with each other, and we would launch this resource at the online sharing that would happen in spring of 2022 (KEVIN JESUINO) I...

e96 joan sullivan – the liminal space between what was and what’s next

'We find ourselves in a liminal space right now and liminal space means it's that time between what was and what's next. That's where we are. It's a place of not knowing and unless all of us humans, and not just artists, recognize that we are already in a transition - not just an energy transition - but a cultural, a democratic, a social transition. There is an end. We will come out of this. No one knows how, but we will pass through. It's inevitable and what waits on the other side is up to us to design.'<...

e95 charles c. smith & kevin a. ormsby – IBPOC arts in planetary renewal

'Yes, we agree that anti-racism is important. Yes we agree that anti oppression is important. Yes, we agree that equity is important. Yes, we agree that sovereignty is important for indigenous peoples in particular and that decolonization is really important but to us, these are tools to get toward a new society, to transform the world in which we live. If I can refer to the panel that we had the other day that led off this conference, to get out of the social historical economic trap that we're currently in, that forces us to compete with each other, that...

e94 devon hardy – data is a powerful thing

'We have a national data set that's about to emerge and that's a really powerful thing. If we can gather data from across the country from arts and culture organizations across the country and build a data set over time, then we'll actually be able to understand what kind of programming we need for environmental sustainability in the arts and culture sector. We can actually do that based on the demonstrated needs of the community.'

I first met Devon when she was working freelance doing environmental assessment for theatre companies in Montreal. I was impressed by her commitment...

e93 anthony garoufalis-auger – national cultural climate policy

'The economic models and the way that policy is guided in Canada and around the world at the moment assumes that culture will not change. It assumes that we're self interested individuals, which science is now showing us that that is not the case. We're actually very collaborative and that are ancient cultures and traditional cultures around the world already knew this but we're assuming we're continuing to plan the economy under these old assumptions, that are just no longer useful and no longer actually accurate. What needs to happen now is a massive culture change and what's interesting in...

e92 santee smith – about SKéN:NEN and interconnectedness

'The environment and sustainability is an integral, if not the founding process, of how we view the world: interconnectedness, responsibility as human beings, to be caretakers of the earth, to be forward thinkers about what we do now will affect seven generations later and that has always been our understanding since we can remember. It's written into our wampum belt designs and our pottery shards and all of those things that are encoded knowledge, is what I am using today and what my family has used to understand our responsibility.'

Santee Smith (Tekaronhiáhkhwa/Picking Up The Sky) i...

e91 keith barker – telling a really good story

'I look for stories that are not there just to educate people. If I tell a really good story and it happens to be about the global crisis, about global warming and about the effects on community, if I get your heart, then you're gonna go forward and look at other things, you're gonna start doing some research. It's like, I wanna look at and so to me, I always tell people, tell a really good story and get them on your side, and then they'll go and do their own work. As opposed to like, these are the seven...

e90 shannon litzenberger – state of emergence : why we need artists right now

'I would first and foremost love to see artists really lean into experimentation with their creative practices and to share what comes out of those practices - the learning and experimentation - with each other. I think that's something that even as a community of art makers we can get better at, but what that then also does is it starts to socialize learning about what art as a system of knowledge production is and this is how we start to disentangle ourselves from the ways that we're trying to solve this challenge, or the ways that we're even thinking...

e89 excerpts from ben okri’s ‘artists must confront the climate crisis’

‘Here we are on the edges of the biggest crisis that has ever faced us. We need a new philosophy for these times, for this near-terminal moment in the history of the human. It is out of this I want to propose an existential creativity.’ 

Ben Okri, The Guardian newspaper, November 12, 2021

I’m back in Ottawa and I’m going to record this monologue in one take, as I have been doing since the beginning of season 3 of this podcast. So here we go. 

Today’s episode features quotes from Artists must confront the climate crisis – we m...

e88 robin mathews – on radical listening & political poetry

'I don't know how many people in Canada who would immediately understand what radical listening is, because it would occur to me that the listener would have to be sensitized beforehand in order to listen radically, so that the radical listening is a secondary function of becoming radicalized in a political matter or political level. Radical listening is at one level, isn't it, one listens in repose. One listens in usually undefended state of mind and so radical listening would be post action listening or preparatory to action.'

Robin Mathews, Vancouver, 2021

This is a special edition...

e87 kendra fanconi – on the artist brigade, ben okri, eco-restoration, eco-grief & reauthoring the world

'We are all artists of the Anthropocene. We inherently are because this is the world that we're living in right now. There's no other world. We were down earlier at Robert's Creek (BC) and it's a salmon bearing stream. I think of it like we're artists in the Anthropocene, like fish would be in the ocean: the water is all around us and the Anthropocene is all around us. I think it may be what Ben Okri is tasking us with is: can you describe the water? It's all we know, but we need to be able to look from...

e86 arts policy, equity and activism class at centennial college

'I'm interested in what we can do to both mitigate the climate emergency and adapt to it but there's another level which is revisioning the world and maybe that's the one that's most interesting, because unfortunately it's going to be rough for the foreseeable future on earth, but life will go on, with or without humans. I think humans have a place in it, but then we have to figure out how we're going to live with much, much less resources and all the damage that's been done and have a positive view of that. So rethinking and reauthoring the...

e85 tracey friesen – narratives of resilience for a post carbon world

'What's starting to interest me is stories of resilience for a post carbon world. What are we going to need for our emotional well-being? It's going to be a different world not long from now. If we do this, and we must do this, this transition has to happen and there's going to be a sense of loss and sacrifice and challenge, not just with what's happening externally from a climate point of view, but in how we're going to have to make changes to our lives and reorient our energies in terms of our advocacy. I feel like there's...

e84 viviane gosselin + mauro vescera of the museum of vancouver

Museums have been very good at normalizing social values and so when you have this shift and the government is seeing it, we have to change behavior, the museum can create that space where people can rethink some of their conventional thinking about consuming, for example and there's all kinds of ways, like we were saying earlier, of integrating this kind of knowledge, not in a lecturing way. I think that's the key word, is we can be cheeky. This is a social activity. Nobody is forcing anyone to come to the museum and so when people come, they want...

e83 the greatest mass movement in history

‘This episode lasts 59 seconds. I want to share a November 13th, 2021, tweet by British writer and climate activist George Monbiot: 'Now we have no choice but to raise the scale of civil disobedience until we have built the greatest mass movement in history. We do not consent to the destruction of our life support systems’.’

George Monbiot, November 13th, 2021, tweet 

This episode lasts 59 seconds. I want to share a November 13th, 2021, tweet by British writer and climate activist George Monbiot: 

‘Now we have no choice but to raise the scale of civil disobedience until we h...

e82 washable paint

My goal with this episode was to record the soundscape of a public protest : the singing, chanting, speeches, random chatter and marching as well as the ambiance of the city, however what I witnessed and heard at this event was the response of the protesters to Vancouver Police around the arrest of group of young people who were doing a ceremony with washable red paint onto the windows of the federal Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change building on Burrard street (see photos), at which point the protest leaders requested the release the arrested persons and decided to re...

e81 – inspiration

'Art is a practice of expanding consciousness, which gives us a tremendous opportunity to explore and to embody possibility and to engage with the earth as it continues to change and with each other.

Rebecca Mwase, excerpt from e10 mwase – expanding consciousness (from an interview at Creative Climate Leadership USA, March, 2020)


e81 inspiration are excerpts from all my conversations up to today, November 10th, 2021. I chose short excerpts where the tone and emotion in the voice of each person inspires and uplifts me every time I listen to it and I hope they will inspire an...

é80 manifeste – accélérer l’action climatique grâce au pouvoir des arts, de la culture et du patrimoine

'Nous, les soussignés, déclarons que les peuples, leurs cultures et le patrimoine naturel et culturel de la Terre sont profondément menacés par le changement climatique causé par les êtres humains et par l'inaction climatique qui aggrave la crise climatique en cours, tout en réaffirmant l'immense pouvoir des arts, de la culture et du patrimoine pour inspirer l'action climatique et permettre une transition juste vers un avenir à faible émission de carbone et résilient face aux changements climatique.' * é80 est ma lecture #baladoconscient du manifeste 'Accélérer l'action climatique grâce au pouvoir des arts, de la culture...

e79 manifesto – accelerating climate action through the power of arts, culture and heritage

'We, the undersigned, declare that people, their cultures, and the natural and cultural heritage of the earth are profoundly at risk from human-caused climate change and the climate inaction that is deepening the unfolding climate crisis even while we reaffirm the immense power of arts, culture, and heritage to inspire climate action and enable a just transition to low carbon, climate resilient futures.'

Accelerating Climate Action through the Power of Arts, Culture and Heritage manifesto, 2021

My reading of the ‘Accelerating Climate Action through the Power of Arts, Culture and Heritage’ manifesto developed by the Climate Heritage Netw...