Conscient Podcast: e136 electricity – are. you. powerless?

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I improvised a story during a power outage at the cottage about sound without electricity


(bell and breath)

It’s Wednesday, July 12th, 2023. Yesterday, at 4.53 pm, the power went out at my cottage and I wanted to make this episode about our dependence on electricity.

So here I am in an analog world, normally, with electricity, but without power, of course, there are no lights.

In the cabin there’s no pump to draw water, though there is a bit of water left in the tank, so I can use a little bit, but it will run out. Of course, there’s a lake out front, so that’s not a problem. 

My phone doesn’t work either. It’s now out of power. 

Importantly, food is being kept cold in the fridge, but of course it’s not being refrigerated and in particular, the ice box is slowly getting warm. Without electricity, it does not work and there’s no backup to refrigeration other than ice, which is the way that it used to be done. 

And there are other things that change, of course : lights in the cabin and the ability to charge batteries and all of that but there are other ways of living. There’s lots of wood here and so I built a fire for lunch and it’s still burning. Might still be good for dinner. 

My point is to take advantage of this opportunity of not having electricity, to think about the things that we might take for granted and that we perhaps don’t need. 

Do I really need to charge my batteries all the time so that my phone works at my convenience?  Are there other things that I could do with less of or not at all.

I invite you to think about that and to listen to the sounds around you without electricity… 

I’m enjoying this moment of non-electricity, which changes my perception of time. I do have battery powered clocks, but I can’t check my phone. I can’t have the radio on to tell me about what’s going on in the world so there’s this sense of disconnection from that world, but it’s also an opportunity to connect to this world. 

Of course, the electricity could go back on at any moment. It’s almost been 24 hours now and it is very serious for those whose lives depend on the electricity in hospitals, but they have backups. 

I guess the ultimate backup is how we used to live so many years ago without electricity :  living more by the sun and by our relationship to the land that’s not mediated by electricity. 

I’ll end with my bell again. Wishing you the pleasures of electricity and the pleasures of not having electricity.

Are. You. Powerless? 



This episode was recorded without any preparation hence is a bit rough around the edges but I liked the flow and fragility in my voice. 

I am grateful and accountable to the earth and the human labour that provided me with the privilege of producing this episode. (including all the toxic materials and extractive processes behind the computers, recorders, transportation and infrastructure that make this podcast possible).

My gesture of reciprocity for this episode is to the Canadian Association for Sound Ecology (CASE).

The post e136 electricity – are. you. powerless? 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.

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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 :

acknowledgement of eco-responsibility

I acknowledge that the production of the conscient podcast / balado conscient produces carbon. I try to minimize this carbon footprint by being as efficient as possible, including using GreenGeeks as my web server and acquiring carbon offsets for my equipment and travel activities from BullFrog Power and Less.

a word about privilege and bias.

While recording episode 19 “reality”, I heard elements of “privilege” in my voice that I had not noticed before. It sounded a bit like “ecological mansplaining”. I realize that, in spite of good intentions, I need to work my way through issues of privilege (of all kinds) and unconscious bias the way I did through ecological anxiety and grief during the fall of 2020. My re-education is ongoing.

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