A radiophonic meditation on gender identity and storytelling set in Bangkok has won multiple awards.
Making Up: 11 Scenes from a Bangkok Hotel is a radiophonic essay/feature about sexual and textual identity and the act of ‘making up’.
The essay was co-produced by creative nonfiction writer Associate Professor David Carlin and audio feature maker and sound designer Kyla Brettle with additional support from RMIT's non/fictionLab.
Set in an international city at the crossroads of many flight-paths, the work interweaves an essay dramatising the mindscape of a Western ‘author’, with documentary-style representations of young Asian voices from the transgender community.
Carlin and Brettle collaborated to make an engaging and immersive audio experience that also critiques some of the tropes and conventions of narrative voice.
The work was commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio National’s (RN) Creative Audio Unit, Australia’s leading broadcast space for audio art and premiered on RN’s Soundproof program to a national audience in December 2015.
The program has since won four categories at the 2016 New York festival (NYF) radio awards, two Gold awards for Best Sound and Best Writing and two Silver awards for Best Direction and Best Documentary (Arts and Culture).
NYF's international radio program awards for the world's best radio programs honours radio programming and promotions in all lengths and formats from radio stations, networks and independent producers from around the globe.
Carlin, who is Deputy Dean (Communication) in the School of Media and Communication said it is wonderful to receive this international recognition for our work and to have it judged alongside innovative radio works from around the world.
“We started with my essay, to which Kyla was able to add a whole other layer of sonic texture and meaning when we developed this radio version for the ABC, collaborating both with actors Pamela Rabe and David Woods and members of the Asia-Pacific Transgender Network,” Carlin said.
Brettle, who lectures in the Bachelor of Communication (Media) said that she looks for stories that unfold organically via events that can be followed through incidental conversation and location sound - and tries to avoid narration and long formal interviews.
“I'm interested in the visceral and spatial properties of sound and how these can be used to make the listener feel like they are at the centre of an experience or a three-dimensional space.”
“I wanted to juxtapose the essay scenes with the voices and stories of real people, specifically transgender men and women living in Bangkok, for whom the exploration of sexual identity is more than a folly performed in a liminal space,” Brettle said.
Eleven Scenes has been described by leading US documentary-maker and scholar Michael Rabiger as ‘a superb piece of work, the kind of spiralling, multi-layered consciousness one hopes to light upon, and that is so enjoyably challenging compared with 99% of radio.’
RN's Creative Audio unit has also selected the show to enter into the Palma Ars Acoustica, organized by the Euroradio Ars Acustica Group which only EBU member broadcasters can enter.
Making Up: eleven scenes from a Bangkok Hotel can be downloaded from the ABC website.
Story: Wendy Little