blog – the gift of failure

February 5, 2023

Hi there,

I re-read the gift of failure document this week. I recommend it.

In particular, I took to heart how the article begins:

We chose the word “gesture” for the title of our collective to underscore the fact that decolonization is impossible when our livelihoods are underwritten by colonial violence and unsustainability. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, our health systems and social security, and the technologies that allow us to write about this are all subsidized by expropriation, dispossession, destitution, genocides and ecocides. There is no way around it: we cannot bypass it, the only way is through. …

How we fail is important. It is actually in the moments when we fail that the deepest learning becomes possible and that is usually where we stumble upon something unexpected and extremely useful. Failing generatively requires both intellectual and relational rigour.

Like falling off a bike and getting back up again? 

What did I learn since my last blog? For example, I wrote in the January 29, 2023 conscient newsletter : 

One of my learnings from this project is letting go of expectations and the need for validation. Rather, without pretence and with humility, it is better to present one’s artwork as an offering and through this creative work, to deepen connections and relations.

I also learned to be (more) patient this week. 

A good friend told me that my podcast does not take 5 minutes in one’s life, it requires much more: time to prepare, absorb and reflect on the content and even more time and energy to respond. This friend mentioned that we are already over solicited and our attention is precious. they said, ‘I don’t have the headspace’…

Message received and thank you.

e104 time 

from Flora Gomez in Toronto

I really appreciated the train sound and the invitation to reflect on what it means to be a small moment in a much larger space. A lot to unpack there in such a very subtle proposal.  

My response:

Yours is the first comment on this episode, which so far, is closest to what I originally intended with this project, e.g. a field recording that sounds and feels like modernity (train passing), followed by moment of transition (revealing an urban space after the train passes) and concluding with a point of arrival (mountain forest) accompanied by the wise words of France Trépanier. Thanks for your feedback and for the opportunity to ‘unpack’ this episode. 

My friend and colleague in music, Peter Hatch (Saltspring Island BC) writes:

Congrats on your new initiative – I liked e104 especially I tried e105 as audio only first – it was much more intriguing with video added, for me. I love your use of ‘incidental text’ (or none) in these, and their brevity. (Who can’t afford 5’?)

Peter goes on to add my first audiovisual response to an episode: 

A couple of weeks ago I made a train recording that I was happy with (using Rode Go II mics) in Bellingham. Related to your topic, it seemed a nice metaphor for our western (linear) view of time.  Fittingly, it was a coal train. Here it is if you’re interested:

Peter also adds that e104 time reminded him of a passage (important to him) from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass

Time as objective reality has never made much sense to me. It’s what happens that matters. How can minutes and years, devices of our own creation, mean the same thing to gnats and to cedars? Two hundred years is young for the trees whose tops this morning are hung with mist. It’s an eyeblink of time for the river and nothing at all for the rocks. The rocks and the river and these very same trees are likely to be here in another two hundred years, if we take good care. As for me, and that chipmunk, and the cloud of gnats milling in a shaft of sunlight—we will have moved on.

Thanks for setting the pace on creative responses, Peter!

e105 rope

From France Trépanier, artist (desert sonora, usa)

This morning I listened to episode 105 ‘rope’ of the conscient podcast. I listened to it while walking in the Sonora Desert and looking at the impressive San Jacinto Mountains. I felt the tension of the rope with the movement of the water. I also felt the immense tension that the mountain created, pushing a large layer of land upwards. Then the silences… like the silences of the mountain that occupy a completely different temporal reality and which, in this moment, cultivates immobility in its meditative state. In short, a very inspiring episode! Thank you.’ 

My response:

Glad to read about your experience with é105. é105 is open to all interpretations. By the way, it reminds me of… e104 time, where you said:

‘with hindsight, we will realize that this was a very small moment in a much larger space, and that we are returning to very deep knowledge.’ 

Thank you for this reminder that there are much larger spaces and silences whose temporal reality eludes us. 

The post blog – the gift of failure 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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