Sound jams: infomercials from the future
Workshop // Sound Jam: Infomercials Audiozine Making // part of ▶▶Zine Camp 2023. A free festival to make zines and friends @ Worm, Rotterdam, NL.
Sound Jams is a series of collective audiozines making that artist and facilitator Ål Nik hosts with the aim to inspire makers to play with the sonic format in their work. In this workshop, the group will create an audio collage of infomercials. The makers will be led through a playful process of doodling, writing and experimenting with alternative reality speculations, turning them into fun and short radio commercials.
With this sound jam, I wanted to facilitate a playful way of discussing a serious topic and addressing it with sound. For it, I decided to invite the participants to make infomercials - a format we used for our graduation radio show at XPUB. A few months ago, I got a theme as a prompt from the Zine Camp organisers - access. Thus, I was thinking what if we speculate about access to resources. I wanted to think a little but about the future and was curious how would a group of (most likely) strangers would think of it.
informercial - an advertising which promotes a product in an informative and supposedly objective style. [source: Oxford Languages]
// 5-11-2023 // 11:30-13:30 // WORM, Rotterdam
_introduction // ~5 min // introducing who I am and what is this workshop about
_who is in the room // ~5 min // a round with everyone introducing themselves and why they joined this workshop
_introducing the theme // ~5 min // a brief introduction to the topic of the workshop - "informercials from the future". We played with a scenario that it is 2044 and the access to some resources is somehow limited or regulated - this was the prompt for the participants to start working with.
_letter writing // ~10 min //
individually, they wrote a short letter telling someone else how are things these days in 2044 (warm up);
then, we made a round of extracting some resources from their letters; and brainstormed about what other resources can be limited in the future.
_infomercials making // ~40 min // we listened to three examples of infomercials as an inspiration; then people formed groups of 2-3 people and worked on their infomercials. The task was to record a 1-minute-max audio infomercial about 1 resource that is limited. They were invited to pick up the papers from the brainstorming; to simply use their phones or the equipment I've brought.
_listening party // ~10 min // we listened the 3 infomercials altogether; and had a short discussion about the process; getting also feedback about the workshop.
It's 2044. Some of the resources commonly known in 2023 are quite scarce now. The access to them is somehow limited and/or regulated. Here are some infomercials to shine some light on the current circumstances these days:
▶▶ listen here
▶▶ listen here
The Chair Party
▶▶ listen here
_resources // During the preparation of the workshop, I was also speculating about what kind of resources could be limited and what ones will come out from the participants' minds. Just a little over a week before the workshop, I actually had a situation with limitation to a core resource I use every day - internet (my wifi at home was dead for a few days). I was working on a freelance project that required me to join an online video call and then upload a number of heavy design files. I carefully planned to do the job during the day while working from a cafe, but of course - I had make more edits in the evening. Since this whole work was with deadline "yesterday", I really didn't want to wait until the morning to upload them again, but I knew I had to use my roaming data (that I pay for each mb used...). For a couple of days, it really felt like 20+ years ago, or maybe 20 years ahead...
Anyways, during the workshop, there were some interesting proposals for resources that might get scarce in the future. Here is the full list that was on the table:
scent; nature [water, fresh air]; attention; we; whole food groups; internet; electric lights; social contacts; time; zines; sand; housing; eyesight [glasses or medical care for it]; bonus: chairs
_playfulness // I didn't want the workshop's topic to create a grim atmosphere in the group, so I tried to give some prompts that could direct them going into the direction of a playful approach and irony. I played them some examples of infomercials we did for the xpub grad radio show, which were indeed quite ironic and mocking either with the content, or with the way the infomercial was made. Laughing altogether whilst listening to them, I think, helped to set such an ambience in the room.
_accessibility // It wasn't a technical workshop. There was no purpose into working together on sound-editing programmes or diving into technical knowledge for doing it. It was intended to be accessible for anyone and to be a little prompt for them to explore the sound medium more in the future. Thus, the participants were invited to use their phones for recording - and by doing so, they got creative on how to add ambience to the soundscape of their works without doing editing afterwards. Some of them did work with editing and that allowed them to pick up which recordings to finally put into their mix and which to leave out.