Silent Sound Art-Jake

My piece is another attempt to explore the concept of waiting as described within the Ma reading we did for last class.  My former attempt separated two breaths (an inhalation and and exhalation) to stress the time in between.  This one took a slightly different approach-I began by collecting as many sounds as possible that are designed to act as an indication that someone is trying to reach someone else.  Examples of these kinds of sounds include ringtones, Facebook alerts, text message alerts, doorbells, email alerts, etc.  After collecting these sounds, I loaded them into a drum rack in Ableton Live and connected the drum rack to a midi controller so that I could launch them in real time.  I also added a few very basic audio effects into the mix-I compressed and EQd every sound to make them sound more believable, but found that adding any reverb made the sounds appear much farther away.  I mapped panning and volume controls to the midi controller for a bit of added control.  The resulting MIDI instrument is basically a drum-pad loaded with “alert” samples that can be launched in real time, and a few basic audio effects that I can apply to them in real time as well.  My last piece was a single piece of audio that the audience was meant to simply listen to for as long as it lasted.  This time, the piece is meant to happen without the audience even knowing.  Ideally, the subjects would all be interacting with some other kind of art installation, so that they have no idea mine is even happening.  My only criteria for this installation is that talking between audience members is not allowed, mainly because I believe that people think in a different way when they are not allowed to talk.  I would walk around the exhibit with my controller, occasionally playing these alert-sounds to nobody in particular (the placement of the speakers would be very important in this regard-ideally there would be a large amount of very small speakers.  These speakers don’t need to be very nice, as they’d be simulating mainly phone speakers and occasionally laptop speakers.  The main concept is that people would be hearing the sounds I cue, and then expect the human interaction associated with a phone call or text, but it would never come.  They would be stuck waiting for someone to talk to them, yet it would never happen.  Also, more likely than not, after a while they would become annoyed that everyone else in the audience is both so popular and so reluctant to silence their phones.

Before making this piece, I first listened to Miles’s piece that explored the world of notification sounds.  I loved hearing them in an artistic context, and realized that the companies responsible for producing such sounds likely spent huge amounts of money on the sound designers who created them.  The most popular ringtones and alerts that we hear are all beautiful noises, which was not my intent at all-I was only trying to find out whether or not the feeling of waiting could be achieved based on what these sounds make us expect.


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