Eduardo Gama on The Evolution of His MA Honours Project Post-dBs

We recently celebrated 100% of our Innovation in Sound MA students achieving vocational success and beginning their journeys post-dBs. Here, we caught up with Eduardo Gama; one of the graduates from this cohort who has expanded on the work he did throughout his Innovation in Sound MA into a collaborative research project with UWE and the University of Bristol.

Eduardo’s journey to MA graduation has seen him move from Portugal, where he studied and worked in theatre and embark on a shift in career direction to sound recording for film. Then COVID hit and a slew of his newly-found sound recording work fell away. In the wake of that lost work, Eduardo applied to dBs’ Innovation in Sound MA to update his skills and cement his shift away from the stage.

Aural Postcards

The honours project Eduardo worked on throughout his masters, titled Aural Postcards, proved to be the conduit for much of his work post-dBs. The project started with a desire to explore the feelings and experiences of being a migrant in England and sharing those emotions in an immersive, open and honest format.Eduardo working with synth-1

“Being a foreigner in England was always a thing that I wanted to explore creatively,” says Eduardo, “It always struck me as interesting, from the point of view of sound, of coming to a different country, not knowing the language or struggling with the language and being a foreigner. Being displaced; being out of place; not feeling rooted; feeling out of context.”

When transforming those nebulous feelings of displacement - accelerated during the isolation of the pandemic - into something tangible, Eduardo leaned into his experience in theatre. The visual nature of theatrical performance sparked the idea to work on a multimodal project that combined images with sound; connecting the visual and sonic worlds through an AV version of a postcard where sound design, composition, field recordings and spoken word replaced the written word.

“The idea of the Aural Postcards started with COVID and the idea of not being able to travel abroad or to go back home or not having people coming to you. Because I'm not a young man anymore, I still remember when we used to send postcards when we were on journeys with a nice picture and a message.”

Toying with ideas around the format and presentation for his project, Eduardo decided that the idea of a postcard balanced intimacy and transparency in a way that lent itself to the theme of the project. “A letter is a personal thing,” says Eduardo, “It's closed inside an envelope, it's stamped and, hopefully, if there are no issues, it gets to the destination and the person reads it. The postcard doesn't work like that. It is a picture, you write in there, you stamp it, and you send it but it's still open. The guy from the post office can still read it. So, even though it's personal, it's public at the same time. So I've also played with that idea. The soundtrack is quite personal, but it's shareable.”

3 Days on a Train

Eduardo’s Aural Postcards were made of three main components: the image, field recordings and spoken word pieces from migrants living in the UK about where they come from, their new home and the people and places they miss. “I was quite intense,” says Eduardo, “For at least two of the people that did it, it was very emotional… It's not straightforward. The fact that I miss home doesn't mean that the other person is missing home because maybe their migrant status came from a different story; from a different background. I was able to pay for a plane ticket to come to this country to live here for a few months and I was still okay. Some people ran away from their homes because it was too bad. They found sanctuary here and that's normally the place we end up calling home, isn't it? It was a really interesting project and it's now developing into something more.”

Voices From The Border

That “something more” is a research project that Eduardo is embarking on in collaboration with a UWE and the University of Bristol about workplace vulnerability for women who work in factories on the USA-Mexico border. The project is made up of 50 five minute AV pieces that will either be presented individually as installations or strung together into a longer film with a narrative and submitted to the film festival circuit. 

Although Aural Postcards took shape in a different format, it’s the shared illustration of displacement and vulnerability that connects the two projects and the parallelity of the work that drew a University of Bristol film lecturer to invite Eduardo onboard. Similarly to Aural Postcards, the new research project uses spoken word and field recordings to tell the stories of people who have experiences of feeling out of context and displaced in a creative, engaging and experimental way.

Eduardo on beach B&W-1

“We are gathering those testimonies of the women and working them creatively in order to impact the community,” says Eduardo, “It's bridging the gap between the academic world with the ‘common’ world. If you have something impactful, it can translate to ‘normal’ people and through film, sound and the creative disciplines, that's where you can bridge that gap more easily.

“I'm creating soundtracks with the stories and then they will go to videographers to build films based on the soundtracks that I've made. So what's happening is that we are subverting the filmmaking process. Normally, what's most important first is recording the film, and the sound comes later on in post-production. Even if you have sound recorded on set, most of the time it is replaced with ADR. The sound effects are added at the end, music comes at the end. In this sense, what we’re doing is subverted; the testimonies are what's most important and then we move to the filmmaking process. The films are a reflection of the soundtrack.”

Also in the process of writing a proposal for his PhD, titled Transforming Voices, which examines “how the voice is used to create identity in filmmaking”, Eduardo says that he “wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the MA.” Through the success of Aural Postcards, Eduardo has successfully ridden the uncertainty of COVID and migrated his skills from the theatre to sound and the Innovation in Sound MA at dBs was instructive in that shift. “It's a great place with great people,” he says, “They know what they're doing. It's a really great place to experiment and to share the things that you discover.”

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Want to challenge yourself to stretch the boundaries of sound?
Check out our Innovation in Sound MA!
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