A Mother’s Hidden Grief – What’s Hidden – JRNL102

 

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A mother’s loss is one of pure devastation. The death of a child is a traumatic experience, of which, cannot be compared to any other.

At 82 years of age, Kathleen ‘Sally’ Conforti still recalls the gut-wrenching day, in 2009, when her 42-year-old son, Patrick Conforti, died as a result of a Heroin overdose.

Harmful drug use continues to be a serious public health issue in Australia with 1,808 drug-induced deaths registered in 2016. Those over the age of 40 have been found to have higher rates of drug-related deaths, nation wide. Drug addiction impacts upon the lives of many, not unlike Sally, who’s loss of a loved one, incites grief, that is often masked by sanguinity.

“He was a good kid, but he had a problem with drinking. Then, he went on to drugs” Sally said.

She described her son’s life and aspirations, saying, “He was a good footballer. He almost got to play for the South Sydney Rabbitoh’s, but drugs got in the way.

“It was very sad to lose my first-born. You’re supposed to die before your kids” she said of her loss.

Attempting, countless times, to hep her son, Sally would often attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings while Patrick remained at home, saying, “In the end, he had to help himself.”

“I remember the day. Mum was distraught. She did all she could but it wasn’t enough” said Sally’s second son, Anthony Conforti.

Sally’s high-spirited outlook and flamboyant nature is the perfect disguise for the hidden trauma surrounding the death of her son. Outwardly, she appears light-hearted, radiating buoyancy and positivity, but underneath her façade, is grief regarding Patrick’s death, along with the guilt that prompts the thought that she could’ve done more to save him.

After being diagnosed with emphysema in 2013, sally needed full time care. Residing in Austral at the RSL Lifecare Tobruk Retirement Village, her son Anthony visits every day.

Her genial personality continues to leave a lasting impression on her primary carer Eleanor Clarke, who said, “Sally has been through a lot. I think losing Patrick has made her the kind, strong woman she is today. She’s always up for a chat and she always has a smile on her face.”

Despite her loss and hardship, Sally remains the picture of positivity, saying “It does affect you when you lose a family member, but life’s got to go on and I just had to learn to live with it.”

Twitter – Shaneese Royal 

(All images photographed by myself)

(Credit and thanks to Kathleen ‘Sally’ Conforti and the staff at RSL LifeCare Austral)

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Assessment Task 1: Emotional History

EMOTION: Sadness (Loss)

INTRO SCRIPT: 
Katie gave birth to her baby boy on 23rd November 1990. All was well until she undressed him for a bath. This audio describes the day she lost him.

IN: “When Blake was born he was in a lot of distress”
OUT: “I still have the scar to remind me every day that i had him”
DUR: 2.00

MUSIC: Emotional Piano Theme 4 – Martin Gauffin

AUDIO LOG:

TIME CONTENT – Summary EVALUATION
0:01-0:17 I can’t remember exactly what time, but he was born on 23rd November 1990 Levels too low, hard to hear/ decipher what is being said. *
0:20- 0:25 Hot I think, It was summer, nearly summer Levels too low, muddles speech/ unclear *
0:32 -1:10 Discusses what happened when black was born, he was in a lot of distress, went into an incubator, was tube fed, monitored for a few days Emotionally effecting, Good explanation of events, better levels. **
1:13- 1:57 Explains that Blake came back to the ward and was bottle fed and that they stayed in hospital for a couple of days before Blake as able to be taken home. Not integral to the point of the story nor emotionally impactful, however has good levels **
1:58- 2:21 Explains that “Everything seemed fine/ quite normal for the first few weeks after Blake went home” Creates a juxtaposition for the events that are about to ensue, emotive language/ tone. ***
2:26 – 2:56 Explanation of what alerted Katie to the fact that bale was sick, she undressed him and his stomach was bloated, he was taken to the doctors and recommended to hospital straight away Extremely powerful story, explains the beginning of the moment that is being focused on in the audio. Pauses/ breaths = strong emotions ***
3:02 – 3:20 Explains that she was panicking and worried, didn’t know who to tell Good levels, emotive, perhaps too long winded **
3:25- 3:50 Explaining that she took him to Campbelltown hospital and found out he had a blockage in his bowel, he was then transferred to Camperdown Children’s hospital Keep the diagnosis of blockage in the bowel as this adds to the story and is integral as to what happened to Blake. ***
3:51- 4:06 He was taken there by helicopter Adds to impact of story, can here emotion in voice, makes story more powerful **
4:07- 4:45 Explanation of specifics of operation, what was done, how long it took and so on Important but not as emotional, more explanation, doesn’t add anything to the emotional aspect of story *
4:45- 5:08 Explains that this all happened in 24 hours and she didn’t have a chance to think anything through. Adds to impact, makes audio more powerful as it explains how it happened so quickly ***
5:12- 5:28 Said that he was deteriorating after the operation and that she should return to the hospital very soon. Relevant but there are more emotional pieces to include which relay the same thing, clear levels and emotive tone **

 

 

5:38 – 5:48 “They called us into a separate room in the hospital and they told us that he passed away and that he didn’t make it” Integral moment, the main focus of the story, extremely powerful and invites feelings of sympathy, sadness and sorrow. Natural pauses create emotion. ***
5:50- 6:02 “He had a very bad infection all through his body and he actually passed away from septicaemia.” Extreme impact, pauses create tension/ enhance power of raw emotion, clear levels. ***
6:02- 6:10 “Septicaemia is a poisoning in your blood stream.” Relevant but also takes away from the raw emotion of the last comment. *
6:12- 7:03 “I was in shock for nearly a week, I just stayed in my bed every day and I dint eat or drink. My support was my fiancé at the time and two of my good friends. They came around every day. They didn’t say a word but they were just there.” Slightly off topic to the main focus of the audio, diverges from the particular moment I was trying to capture. *
7:05 – 7:37 “I was paranoid that the same thing may happen again when I fell pregnant with my second child especially because she was through IVF.” Again, not as relevant to the main point of the story, takes away from the raw emotion of previous statements. *
7:41- 8:10 “Sometimes I still feel sad, I still have the scar to remind me every day that I had him. It’s like I never can forget him.” Adds to the follow up emotions of the story and increases the emotional impact to know that the emotions still affect her. ***
8:10- 8:30 “I was told he would have had a lot of health problems if he would have survived. I think everything happens for a reason but it still doesn’t make it any easier.” I think the prior statement has more of a lasting impact so I chose the previous statement to end the work instead. This does however have clear levels and emotive tones **

REFLECTION: 

For my Emotional History task, I drew upon a story that had evoked, quite strongly, within me, feelings of sadness and sorrow. I interviewed my mother, regarding the passing of her first child, only weeks after his birth. She had relayed the story in the past and I thought it would be perfect in order to elicit emotion through the use of sound.

I was somewhat sensitive with my questioning, but, in saying this, interviewing my mother made it easy to capture raw emotions, as I was able to probe deeper than I would have if I had interviewed a stranger.

To capture my interview, along with elements of atmospheric and ambient sound, I used a Zoom H2 recorder. When editing using the Hindenburg Software, I was quite comfortable with the program, in terms of crafting the audio, as I had worked with audio editing programs in the past.

I tried to elucidate the story with as little literal detail as possible, and tried to play on the raw emotions of my interviewee in order to create meaning. I achieved this by, first, logging my audio. I retained most natural pauses in the conversation and I also made sure that cuts and edits weren’t discernible by incorporating fades and splits. I did, however; remove some unwanted sounds such as vocalised pauses and stuttering.

Together with the raw audio, I added some ambient sound, inclusive of a baby crying, tyring not to add too much, so as not to take away from the impact of the story. I also added some background music, in the form of a melodic piano score, which allowed me to avoid absurd sentimentality, while also enhancing the emotion. The music runs throughout the piece, with a brief pause, which I maintain heightens the emotions within the audio, and allows for the affiliation of deeper meaning in the piece, in turn, increasing the emotional affect.

Some elements of the assessment task that I found challenging are as follows. The issue of relevance was something I struggled with. As my piece focuses on such a unique story, I had to work with the audio to make it as relatable as possible to an audience. I achieved this by adding an emotional score to the background, as music is universal in provoking thought. Loss in itself is also relatable, so focusing on something so common also helped with enhancing relevance to others. When it came to the editing process, the only issue I had was the levels of my audio, which I redeemed by increasing them.

Some aspects of the task that I found to be rewarding were the fact that I managed to gain a lot of great content from my interview, as it was a free flowing and open conversation. The duration limit seemed to work perfectly for the moment in time, of which, I was aiming to depict in the task.

Radio producer Alan Hall, as quoted in Lecture 4, states, ““No sound is innocent” (Hall 2010, p.98 in McHugh 2017). Through the processes of recording and editing, I found this to be nothing less than true. Each selection of audio used in my work was chosen with purpose and intent, and therefore, each individual sound and spoken word adds to the overall meaning.

There were a number of sources that assisted in the shaping of my Emotional History audio task. These are inclusive of a number of lectures delivered by Siobhan McHugh and a number of sources cited in her lectures, including Collete Kinsella’s ‘Running with Wolves’ and ‘Phoebe’s Fall’ Podcast, produced by The Age Newsroom. Both of which, inspired the tone and meaning behind my work. The incorporation of music in my work was inspired by McHugh’s lecture titled ‘Music and Mixing Audio Stories’.

It is my hope and intention that audiences may find a personal connection with my work and that it may inspire or encourage them to discuss their own losses.

References

Collete Kinsella’s “Running With Wolves”, cited in McHugh S (2017), Lecture, Week Two, “The Power of Sound: Thinking Through Your Ears”, 31 July 2017.

Hall, A (2010). “Cigarettes and Dance Steps” in Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound, ed. J. Biewen and A. Dilworth, Chapel Hill, UNC Press.

McHugh, S (2017). Lecture, Week four, “Using actuality in audio production”, 14 August 2017. .

McHugh, S (2017). Lecture, Week five, “Music and Mixing Audio Stories” 21 August 2017.

Rome, L. (2014). [online] B-Side Radio. Available at: http://bsideradio.org/editing-sound/ [Accessed 14 Aug. 2017].

The Age Newsroom’s “Phoebe’s Fall” Podcast, cited in McHugh, S (2017) Lecture, Week Three, “The Art and Craft of Editing” 7 August 2017.

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From Hollywood to Nollywood

An industry affected significantly by the rise of globalisation is that, of film and production. Global films with transnational appeal are produced in various countries across the globe, but it is Nollywood films produced in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, that are, perhaps, the most intriguing.

Established in the mid 1990’s, Nollywood was inspired by African traditional travelling theatres. Nollywood films are made direct to video and, as such, are never screened in cinemas. In 2007, Nigeria’s film industry produced 1687 films, making it the third largest film industry in the world, in terms of volume and production rates. Thus, it seems that while the business of film production has spanned wider than Hollywood and the American film industry itself, the cinematic experience remains somewhat localised. If this is the case, what makes possible, the retention of such great popularity regarding Nollywood films?

The argument in the University of Alberta’s ‘Spectatorship, Audience and the Sites of Consumption’, is that outside of Nigeria, and indeed Africa, Nollywood is still largely a curiosity but within its borders, the Nigerian film industry has had nothing but success, after unanticipated success. Often, these movies are completed in a week with a budget of no more than $20,000.The films draw upon traditional characters and events inspired by dramas from other such countries, as Venezuela, Argentina and Mexico, in which, they produce soap operas titled Telenovelas. Nollywood films play on this structure, with a mix of melodrama and culture. Perhaps what makes the popularity of Nollywood films so isolated, is the television aesthetic, of which, the films adopt, appearing more on the side of an extended length television show, than a typical feature film. Nonetheless, the films remain popular within Africa, with the average film selling more than 50,000 physical copies.

“It’s born out of passion. We are using what we have to tell our stories and get it out there,” says British- Nigerian film director and founder of Blu Star Entertainment, Michelle Bello.

Despite the rapid growth and success of the Nollywood film industry, there is one major downfall. With films being produced solely for immediate transfer to DVD, this enhances the possibility for piracy. An estimated $1 billion is lost to piracy each year, with bootleg copies of a film often hitting the streets within hours of its release. The World Bank estimates that for every 10 Nigerian movies sold, only one is a legitimate sale.

In order to rectify these losses, the Nigerian Copyright Commission is working to reform a law that governs the ways, in which, filmmakers and producers can be compensated for the loss of profit from their art and intellectual property.

With unprecedented acceptability in Nigeria and across Africa, it is only a matter of time before globalisation influences the popularity of Nigerian films worldwide. Soon Nollywood films will become, not a curiosity, but a widely accepted style of film and production, increasing profitability for production companies, and, in turn, increasing revenue for the film industry in Nigeria.

The Perils of Parochialism

International education is Australia’s fourth largest export industry. Despite its success, it is more than just a profitable business. International education gives individuals, who otherwise would not have had the chance to learn on a global scale, the opportunity to gain a higher education through a global network, consisting of a number of academic institutions, from various countries worldwide.

International education also provides travel opportunities for those students engaging with such programs, in order to gain deeper knowledge, together with the often-anticipated intercultural experience, that is expected when participating in international education.

Often times, it is the social experience that comes along with travelling for the purpose of education that international students most look forward to. But, as the potential for international education is severely under-realised and underrated, this intercultural experience is habitually overlooked.

In order for the business of international education to continue to flourish within Australia in particular, we as a nation must work collaboratively in order to improve the experience of international students and focus upon creating an international encounter, inclusive of socialising activities. This can be achieved through avoiding Parochialism with Australia being labelled as parochial in relation to international education.

 Parochialism is the confined or restricted view, whereby an individual, or in the case of Australia, in relation to international education, a nation, retains a narrow minded and somewhat self-centred, self-interested view of what is, in reality, a diverse and complex world. The term “parochial” can be applied in both culture and politics and is extremely evident when considering the experience of international students who visit Australia.

In Tim Deane- Freeman’s “The Lucky Country… If You’re White” Parochialism, is linked closely to racism. Issues inclusive of Pauline Hanson’s policies regarding immigration, and refugee detention centres are explored within the article. Australia can also be considered racist, in conjunction with that of being parochial, when considering the coverage of the Olympic games. “While the Olympics are ostensibly an event that brings the world together, the racism that runs through much of the coverage serves to underscore the differences between ‘us’ and ‘them.” Australian Olympic coverage is frequently one-sided, epitomising the parochial views that Australia is said to retain.

In ‘International education as self-formation: Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’, Simon Marginson argues that Australians are too parochial, “trapped within an Australian, culturally isolated view of the world.” “Most international students want closer interaction with local students, and are prepared to take risks to achieve this… most local students are not interested” (Marginson). He argues that local Parochialism is a missed opportunity for intercultural interactions and relations. He says in order to improve the intercultural experience of international students we must encourage ‘Self-formation’ and ‘Self-definition’.

While perhaps the reason behind Australia’s labelled parochialism is our geographical isolation, in a modern technological age, this is no excuse. In order to promote a positive experience of international education and exchange within Australia, we must first improve our cultural acceptance, nationwide.

Homogenous Happy Meals

“If there is a global village, it speaks American. It wears jeans, drinks Coke, eats at the golden arches, walks on swooshed shoes, plays electric guitars, recognises Mickey Mouse, James Dean, ET, Bart Simpson, R2-D2 and Pamela Anderson.” (Gitlin 2001, p. Media Unlimited)

Americanisation is the process, whereby, Western values upheld in the US, are projected on to countries outside of the world power. A perfect example comes in the form of American fast food giant, McDonalds, which has become one of the most globally recognisable and ubiquitous corporations, in an age of increasing interconnectedness.

While the USA is not the only controlling force in the media world, the predominance of Americanisation has led to increased popularity of brands and commodities, like that of McDonalds, outside of the US. This adoption of American culture can be examined through the concept of Cultural Imperialism.

Cultural Imperialism describes how one civilisation spreads its values and ideas. Imperial domination is maintained, partly, through the dissemination of cultural products, brands and commodities. (O’Shaughnessy 2012, p. 465)

Globalisation, in particular, Cultural Imperialism, has the potential to set in motion, the homogenisation of world cultures, reducing cultural diversity in the process. Through the popularisation and diffusion of a wide range of cultural symbols, inclusive of, but, not limited to, physical objects, ideas, values and customs, the world has become increasingly amalgamated.

In, From Big Mac to Rice Burger – Globalisation: McDonald’s in Japan, Manya Koetse describes how multinational corporations such as McDonalds, are a prime example of the process of globalisation. Discussed, is the widespread popularity of the food chian, referring to the presence of McDonalds in over 118 countries worldwide.

“Whilst McDonald’s initially symbolised American culture (or rather, symbolised how the US was perceived), it has now become part of many countries ‘local’ culture. I would rather refer to this as ‘glocal’; a concept to illustrate the intermingling of the global and the local. McDonald’s has become indigenised by many cultures across the globe.”

Globally, there is an omnipresent tension concerning the loss of cultural diversity and identity, due to the increasing Westernisation of the world. The fear that traditional cultures are being destroyed by the flow of capital, in the form of currency, stock, and commodities, like that of McDonalds, is a popular point of view. In concurrence, many believe that the intrusion of Western culture is increasing the glorification of values such as materialism and consumerism, which are believe to be detrimental to traditional culture and customs.

Thus, there is debate concerning the process of Westernisation, that poses questions as to whether this is a positive or negative occurrence. Is the possibility of interconnectedness and the success of the ‘Global Village’ more important than preserving traditional culture and the heterogenisation of countries around the world? Should we be fighting against Westernisation or embracing it as a form of conglomeration?

The Lonely Girl who really wasn’t

The development of Internet communication, specifically, social media has expanded the traditional notion of identity. Now, it is possible to craft online identities in addition to those in real life. These online personas can shape people’s interpersonal perceptions towards individuals in the real world.

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Original Meme

In 2006, ‘Lonelygirl15’ established a YouTube channel, on which, she posted regular vlogs. Bree, who featured in the videos, was a teenage girl who lived a seemingly normal life. It soon became evident that she was perhaps, lonely and bored, hence the creation of Lonleygirl15. The youtube channel and vlogs gained a massive international following and became extremely popular, in a seemingly short amount of time. Bree had become one of YouTube’s youngest and most popular stars. She reinforced this popularity, starting her own forum and myspace account.

However, after gaining a mass following, it was revealed that Bree and Lonelygirl15 were, in fact, fictional and the channel and videos were produced by a number of writers and actors. Fans, YouTubers and the media alike, had been duped by an artificial online persona, who, projected online, the parts of her life that the writers wanted viewers to see.

Is this so different to what we do each day when posting on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat? We post, often times, edited images of the most exciting parts of our lives, leaving out the mundane occurrences, in order to create the perception we want surrounding our name, image and brand.

To PC or not to PC: Locked vs Generative Platforms

I am, by no means, a gamer of any sort, but, looking into locked vs generative technological platforms, led me to the debate surrounding PC gaming, as compared to, console gaming.

There is fervent discussion about, both, open and closed technologies. Specifically, how closed technologies enforce ideologies that limit the generativity of audiences, by controlling the flow of content across channels. Simply put, this relates to the types of access provided by both open and closed source technology.

The intended result for locked appliance technology is that of pure consumption. This is evident, when considering console gaming. Sony’s Play Station and Microsoft’s Xbox are perfect examples of the iteration of products that lead to increased consumption, with the release of new models every few years. This ultimately creates technological obsolescence for old consoles, when a new model materialises. In contrast to console gaming, PCs give you the freedom to upgrade whenever YOU decide to, not when Sony or Microsoft decide to, rendering the PC, a generative technological platform.

PlayStation and Xbox both market games as ‘console exclusive’, yet, Steam provides these games, inclusive of; Dead Rising, Transitor, and Hotline Miami 2, online, for everyone, at a fraction of the price. Essentially, Steam is providing the same products as big brand names, like PlayStation and Xbox, in an open source environment, that is ultimately, cheaper and easier to access.

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Original Meme