Not long after this web radio channel was established, A sent over the Australian Broadcasting Corporation‘s very funny little jiggy about the fuckwittery of contributing to media overload with yet another podcast, which unintentionally made me feel a bit sheepish about the inadvertent timing of the premiere of 空中媽咪 airTIME coming out in this prolonged period of pandemic, but she reassuringly reminded me that this, and our other planned broadcast project, were both gestating and brewing long before we realised the viral limiting of physical human movements would lead us to plugging in to digital media/social/communication networks in this now fully cyborgian manner. Thinking about it again now, there is something fishy about state-run media discouraging grassroots media, as if the government were actually saying, ‘Let us handle what information is important to produce or not, you all can busy yourselves consuming it’. But maybe as the video says, I should just shut the fuck up.
This podcast — and for some reason I dislike the term ‘podcast’, but whatever — works in that tricky realm between what is silenced and that excess of what needs to be put out into the public as addressed by ABC’s meme. It was a deliberate decision to want to work with single mothers as collaborative partners in this project, both in resonant empathy from my own position as the daughter of a single mother and also as a way to address together what I felt was a mutually ill-advantaged position with respect to our voices and representation in the public sphere. I do think this is a very valid position, but without being able to have an objective eye towards the value and ‘likability’ of each episode (the mental gymnastics inside my head ask if this as masturbatory as those guys’ ideas for West Wing & Wings?), perhaps such an evaluation can only be made with respect to the project as a whole as having been made public and archivable. As regards to the particularities of each show, the content and discussions vary quite a bit depending upon the interests and openness of each host mother, from details of everyday life trials (episode № 01) to ways in which one, as a single mother or immigrant from mainland China, can avoid prejudice in Hong Kong (episode № 02).
I wonder if in this time of pandemic, when the immediacy of boring daily life practices is in-your-face to an extreme (think of all the photos and media around cooking at home), there is no extra need or desire to publicise the bubble of the domestic sphere, the one which single mothers are mostly confined to, any further. When I try to explain to one of the single mums about my ulterior motives for using this project as a way to consider social reproduction and greater equality for women within the schema of politics, economy and society, she responds — to my horror — by saying that I sound like Trump. Granted, I wasn’t actually able to elaborate about ‘social reproduction’ in Cantonese, so maybe my toddler-level talk about equality is how she sees a general American naiveté, now compounded by bombastic Trumpian stupidity. Damn… Is 空中媽咪 airTIME the female, Cantonese equivalent of a bunch of dudes sitting around watching television and eating chicken wings? If you can understand Cantonese, well, you tell me.
Regardless, I have to say that while the process has been challenging (one particular case of *fucking frustrating* censorship from a mother led to a wastebinned episode, and my Cantonese is embarrassing to say the least), I am generally having a lot of fun, as in at the least it offers a space in which me and few new friends can share knowledge, music and sounds with one another. The pilfering from the Youtube and Soundcloud abysses have actually given me quite a lot, from discovering some crazy nice remixes/playlists, to estimates of how much of the Hong Kong population will emigrate over the next years (episode № 04), or even pondering why astronauts farting in space can be so dangerous (episode № 03).
Below is the preview episode of the 空中媽咪 airTIME broadcast project, with further episodes available to listen here, or via Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other podcast platforms. This project has been commissioned by 天台塾 Rooftop Institute as part of its ‘學學習 Hok Hok Zaap‘ series of artist-led workshops. Read more information about the project here.