5.1 Surround Audio, 4m 45s
Foam, Fabric, Colored LEDs

Project Statement (2017)

Early computing dealt with very few interface sounds, but as operating systems developed, they introduced audio feedback which could announce a new e-mail, prompt an action, or alert us to a completion of a task. As technology rapidly evolves, those sounds become forgotten as they are replaced with newer, better sounds with researched psychology behind their design.

Today we live in an era of highly diverse and customizable computers, tablets, phones, and other devices. We are constantly bombarded with a myriad of sound alerts from our own devices as well as from others’ who surround us. Because we have gotten used to hearing these sounds, we are sometimes able to tune it out as white noise; but compared to just a short few years ago, we are exposed to an overwhelming amount of sounds.

For this piece, I chose to work with sounds that were exclusively designed to alert or prompt the user. It is composed entirely from notifications and alert tones from Windows, Mac OS, Instant Messaging programs (such as AIM, ICQ, and MSN/Windows Live Messenger), Android, and IOS.

I wanted to experiment with what the sounds from contemporary devices would be like alongside those from the first computer operating systems. Once the pinnacle of technological advancement, older desktop operating systems have been made nearly obsolete by evolution and the widespread use of mobile devices; for example, the iPhone text notification would almost never be heard alongside AOL's infamous "You’ve Got Mail!"

The sounds are layered to create tension and manipulated to force the listener to engage with familiar tones in a new way. Together, they create a cacophony that mimics the amount of audio notifications we are exposed to on a daily basis.