Conscient blog – what is good for the earth is…

good for us.

22 January 2023

Thanks so much to those who have taken the time to share public or private comments. Here are some of my learnings and unlearnings in relation to these gifts.

e102 aesthetics

A colleague (USA) wrote:

I found it very intriguing and appreciated how you tuned into and out of different frequencies in episode 102. Since listening, I’ve found myself trying to do something similar with my body, noticing what sounds I tend to tune into and out of.  I wonder how de-modernizing art won’t be linear? It almost felt like the spoken narrative followed a more linear path whereas the sounds were more cyclical and messy. It was an interesting juxtaposition.

Sound artist and broadcaster Don Hill (Alberta) wrote:

So, yes — the city is humming along in a flatted G (aka 47 Hz)…  How does this compare with other cityscapes? And how does that perceived hum jive with local power grids, such as they are around the world, ranging from (an unusual) 40 Hz (sic) to 50 Hz (much of europe, for instance) and 60 Hz (North America, Japan…). What kind of standing waves may occur in the human central nervous system? And what of it (affects and so forth)? 

My questions:

What if we were more ‘conscient’ of how frequencies affect us? How would this inform our behaviour? 

e103 heat

That same colleague (USA) also wrote: 

Sometimes I hum to my furnace/AC unit, trying to harmonize. Last summer, it started getting me thinking about humming to well pads since there is a lot of fracking for natural gas in my hometown. I have a dream to audio record a well pad and then try to create some sort of music with it. Your question about decarbonization brought me back to this. How can we make music with what’s hurting the land and our bodies? How can this be both healing and harmful?

I will ponder this good question, which raises the issue of exploitation of the land through recording and of the (intentional or unintentional) ‘aestheticization’ of our environment for profit, which is an ethical dilemma that I struggle with every day, microphone in hand…

On January 15, 2023 Jessica Ruano (Ottawa) wrote: 

Here’s something interesting: as I was listening to this meditation, the furnace in my home started circulating warm air, as it does when the temperature gets below the number I’ve set for it. There was a rumbling sound at first followed by a forceful airflow, and it felt like the sounds in my own home were competing with the sounds in this recording – different methods of distributing heat battling it out, asserting their superiority. Does the loudest win? Or is the aim to be as soundless as possible, so we don’t have to acknowledge its existence in our lives? There, I answered your question with a question!

On January 15, 2023 Hildegard Westerkamp (Vancouver) wrote: 

Thank you, Claude, for this piece and your question. I had hoped that decarbonization would generally sound quieter. Like Jessica, I heard my gas furnace come on in tandem with your heat pump. Would the electric power source of your heat pump not mean a quieter motor? Having driven a hybrid car for years now, has been a much quieter driving experience since I sold my VW Golf. Is your heat pump as loud as your gas furnace was, or are we simply hearing a close-up recording and in fact the sound in the rest of your house may be quieter? And what is the source of the knocking sound?

I replied : 

Hildi and all, Thanks for your thoughts. What you hear in the piece are 3 recordings 1. the tapping sound of tin from the basement to the 2nd floor during the installation 3. gentle rumble of the heat pump in the basement after it was installed 3. Loud exterior fan. Overall the sound volume of the heat pump system is quieter than the gas furnace because there is a constant flow of air with the heat pump as opposed to the ‘surge’ of the gas furnace.  My goal with the e103 heat was to invite listeners to experience the sound of energy production and reflect upon how they might make different choices to reduce their carbon footprint. Interesting that the sounds and silence in the episodes are mixing with real sounds in the listener’s space.

I also had the privilege this week of facilitating a discussion with fellow sound artists at ecoartspace’s Sound Dialogues, where we talked about a range of issues , including the ethics of field recording and this resource was shared: 

what is good for the earth is good for us

Finally, my wife Sabrina reminded me that ‘what is good for the earth is good for us’. This resonated with me and became the title of this blog and a good reminder of how to live.

The post blog – what is good for the earth is… appeared first on conscient. conscient is a bilingual blog and podcast (French or English) by audio artist Claude Schryer that explores how arts and culture contribute to environmental awareness and action.


About the Concient Podcast from Claude Schryer

The conscient podcast / balado conscient is a series of conversations about art, conscience and the ecological crisis. This podcast is bilingual (in either English or French). The language of the guest determines the language of the podcast. Episode notes are translated but not individual interviews.

I started the conscient project in 2020 as a personal learning journey and knowledge sharing exercise. It has been rewarding, and sometimes surprising.

The term “conscient” is defined as “being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts and motivations”. My touchstone for the podcast is episode 1, e01 terrified, based on an essay I wrote in May 2019, where I share my anxiety about the climate crisis and my belief that arts and culture can play a critical role in raising public awareness about environmental issues. The conscient podcast / balado conscient follows up on my (2016-2019) project: 175, 3-minute audio and video field recordings that explore mindful listening.

season 1 (may – october 2020) : environmental awareness and action Season 1 (May to October 2020) explored how the arts contribute to environmental awareness and action. I produced 3 episodes in French and 15 in English. The episodes cover a wide range of content, including activism, impact measurement, gaming, arts funding, cross-sectoral collaborations, social justice, artistic practices, etc. Episodes 8 to 17 were recorded while I was at the Creative Climate Leadership USA course in Arizona in March 2020 (led by Julie”s Bicycle). Episode 18 is a compilation of highlights from these conversations.

season 2 (march – august 2021 ) : reality and ecological grief Season 2 (March 2021 ) explores the concept of reality and is about accepting reality, working through ecological grief and charting a path forward. The first episode of season 2 (e19 reality) mixes quotations from 28 authors with field recordings from simplesoundscapes and from my 1998 soundscape composition, Au dernier vivant les biens. One of my findings from this episode is that “I now see, and more importantly, I now feel in my bones, “the state of things as they actually exist”, without social filters or unsustainable stories blocking the way”. e19 reality touches upon 7 topics: our perception of reality, the possibility of human extinction, ecological anxiety and ecological grief, hope, arts, storytelling and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. The rest of season 2 features interviews with thought leaders about their responses and reactions to e19 reality.

season 3 (october 2021 – february 2022 ) : radical listening Season 3 was about radical listening : listening deeply without passing judgment, knowing the truth and filtering out the noise and opening attention to reality and responding to what needs to be done. The format is similar the first podcast format I did in 2016 with the simplesoundscapes project, which was to ‘speak my mind’ and ‘think out loud’. I start this season with a ‘soundscape composition’, e63 a case study (part 1) and e64 a case study (part 2), a bilingual speculative fiction radio play, set in an undergraduate university history seminar course called ‘History of 2021 in Canada’. It concluded with a soundscape composition ‘Winter Diary Revisited’.

season 4 (1 january – 31 december 2023) : sounding modernity


I’ve been retired from the Canada Council for the Arts since September 15, 2020 where I served as a senior strategic advisor in arts granting (2016-2020) and manager of the Inter-Arts Office (1999-2015). My focus in (quasi) retirement is environmental issues within my area of expertise in arts and culture, in particular in acoustic ecology. I”m open to become involved in projects that align with my values and that move forward environmental concerns. Feel free to email me for a conversation :

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