BEHIND THE SCENES with Seb Emina (Artangel web editor) and Francesca Panetta (producer of The Artangel Podcast: Memory)

Memory was produced for the Artangel Podcast. Let's start with a basic description of Artangel

SE: Artangel's website text maybe states its aims most succinctly: "Artangel commissions and produces exceptional projects by outstanding contemporary artists". Well-known past examples include Break Down , in which Michael Landy and a team of operatives destroyed all of his belongings in the space of two weeks; and Seizure which saw Roger Hiorns filling every last corner of a South London council flat with dazzling blue copper sulphate crystal. Online, you can explore all Artangel's projects since 1992

What's the role of a podcast within the larger context of the organization? How often are Artangel podcasts produced? What are some previous topics covered

We started the podcast at the beginning of 2010, and as with most of these things it began as a new way of communicating the work we do. I'd noticed a lot of arts organisations' podcasts go for quite a rough and ready approach - simple interviews and event recordings, posted quite often. But Artangel tends to produce no more than three or four major commissions in a year, so it made sense to mirror this in the podcast, to see what happened if we created ambitious pieces with very high production values and posted them every few months rather than weeks

How did the theme of memory surface as a thru-line for the specific artworks explored in this podcast? Did other approaches or perspectives come to mind/ears, or was memory the clear window in, collectively

SE: We wanted to move away from a ‘magazine' style format of several unrelated segments, for there instead to be a clear thread that ran through and unified it all. It means our current projects are still there but they're working for the programme rather than the other way round. Fran and I discussed several themes. ‘Home' and ‘the city' were also considered, but memory seemed both truest to the projects and to have scope for something really special, not least in the way it can be seen from both scientific and artistic perspectives

In talking with people, did you find that first memories tend toward the tragic, or violent

FP: I got an extraordinary range of answers from the horrific, Lavinia Greenlaw's accident with a garden cane going through the roof of her mouth, to the hilarious, Paul Robertson wetting himself during a music class (that one didn't make it in)

Translating something so personal, ephemeral, fleeting (not to mention an idea steeped in the past ) into sound is no easy feat. What was your process for conceiving and then actualizing the sound design of the podcast? FP: I wasn't sure of the structure or the sound design when I started out but I knew that I wanted to blur the distinction between the artists and the other contributors whilst still giving some kind of idea of what Artangel's projects actually were. I also knew that memory was a huge subject and that I wanted to cover many areas of it: memory and sound, memory and space and memory and the self. All of my work is montage so taking people on a clear narrative through these areas was a challenge. Key though was to create a kind of aural impression of the process the mind goes through when processing our experiences. As the contributors say in the piece, it's not rational or systematic. We throw memories around in our mind, repeat them, reinterpret them so the podcast does the same - repeating bits of audio in different contexts, whether speech or more abstract sound design. As you can hear there are layers and layers of sound in this podcast and and I drew in bits from all over the place. The sound track from The Arbor was an obvious starting point along with Susan Philipsz songs but I dug in to my computers bulging hardrive for other stories and stories - the old guy singing "If you were the only girl in the world" is my grandfather who currently has Alzheimers (he actually does sing all the time now, it's the only way he can seem to unlock his memories). But to be honest, in editing a piece like this it's really to do with instinct. You start at the top and compose your way through. At least that's the way I see it. I trained as a musician a long time ago and I see sound design, pacing and structure as as a form of composition

Why did Artangel decide to invest time and resources into a podcast? What can/does this format uniquely bring to an audience's understanding of the art it explores

SE: Each Artangel project comes with its own microclimate of ideas - hopefully you leave thinking new things about, say, relationships, or time, or location, or memory. We've been trying to use the online space to capture those ideas and transmit them further than they'd otherwise go, just because of the basic constraints of an artwork being in a particular place at a particular time. So we want the podcasts to be fascinating, standalone programmes that are worth listening to whether or not you'll ever see an Artangel project. I'd love for us to have listeners in Hawaii, New Zealand or Siberia

What's been the response to the Artangel podcast? Will there come a day when Artangel commissions original podcasts as stand-alone art works

SE: Memory is at number 1 in the visual arts category for iTunes Europe, which is really exciting - getting people to listen to a podcast is at least as hard as making one. In the coming years we just want to keep our subscribers interested and surprised and we're considered the merits of doing more, shorter podcasts but to the same standard. As for standalone artworks, we've talked about it and it's very possible... and well, actually, in a manner of speaking, we commissioned an artist to create a ‘pre-podcast podcast' as far back as 1999. Janet Cardiff's The Missing Voice (Case Study B) was a noirish urban mystery tour that took the listener through various streets and buildings in East London. Back then you'd listen to it on a loaned Discman and follow her directions through the city, but now you can download it from our website

The next episode will be a literary special from VATNASAFN / Library of Water, which is Roni Horn's project in an old library building on the west coast of Iceland. There's a writers' residency programme there and as a starting point to the programme, we've asked all the former residents to record something they wrote during their stay...