The Sounding Out! Project led by Lo, Tram, and Gau, is an online science fiction podcast project that provides a space where women, gender diverse youth, and spectrum-identified young people, can creatively navigate the complexities of their lives and re-envision social political change through creation, imagination, and storytelling. “We each love what the genre offers in terms of thinking about time and power in a rapidly evolving technological landscape,” said Gau.
The program, which was facilitated by esteemed Toronto writer Whitney French, took place throughout the summer months of 2017 at SKETCH Working Arts, and was welcomed positively by those who participated. Many of the participants stated that they made new connections and enjoyed being in an environment where they shared the same interests with their peers.
The project’s mission originated from the results of the 2016 Trump election. Lo was set on making a community building environment for what she thought was a “dystopian present (and possible future)” happening. There was also strong interest in using technology as a rapidly changing art medium. These two themes were both important, and merged together for the purpose of the project. Based on prior team experience in community radio, the idea to do a podcast was a natural choice. Both Gau and Tram contributed to a community radio station (CKUT 90.3 FM) when they lived in Montreal, and Lo, alongside her design and screen printing work, had a growing interest in audio production.
The Sounding Out space not only offered programming to individuals who had interests in fusing together science fiction and technology, but also offered folks who identify as femme, gender non-conforming, or as a member of the spectrum, a safe and welcoming space to create community, share ideas, and be creative. “We received such a warm and encouraging response from folks, and many potential participants and community members referred their friends to the workshop through their personal networks”, said Lo.
The space was a form of inspiration for these individuals to move one step closer to breaking barriers in a world where creative direction and development of science fiction storytelling doesn’t make room for these voices. “Sound and technology are predominantly white, male-dominated fields where we often feel unwelcome or not “good enough”, said Tram.
In order to fund the project and get programming up and running, the team applied to and received a grant from ArtReach. ArtReach’s contribution was a key resource to the development of this project. As the team states, “This [grant] was not only a blessing, but a true learning lesson in disguise.” The Sounding Out team stated that the funding for this project allowed them to learn about launching a project and the work it took behind the scenes to get things going. “We learned how to navigate a collective dynamic in our own special way, considering which of our varying capacities and specialities lent themselves best to facilitating and curating each stage of the workshop”, said the team. The project was a success, creating meaningful dialogue and providing a platform for voices of those who are not often represented in the world of science fiction.
Currently, the Sounding Out! team hopes to expand the project, and are in talks of continuing to work with the community to create a bigger space for those interested. You can hear examples of podcasts created through this project on their website here. https://soundingoutworkshop.tumblr.com/
Author: Jessica Bentu