Sound Object

As part of a sponsored brief by Sonos I am working with students from the Design Products course at the RCA.

The brief is to explore concepts of sociality and space related to sound making, and to listening.  It is interesting to reflect on the contemporary experience of music.  The miniaturisation of technology has led to both a downsizing in terms of quality and an isolation of listening experience.  A push to online consumption means that the quality of our streams are lower than that of CDs.  We choose to consume music that is made of less information and, as a result, is less rich because we place higher value the ability to consume freely.  It also represents a loss of the idea of ownership and with it some of the belonging that seems important when we reflect on past cultural movements.  The very literal ‘buying in’ to a culture has evaporated.  It makes the digital audio space one in which we can dip in and out of shallow pools without the immersion that characterises pre-internet listening.

The idea of ‘sharing’ has lost it’s old meaning, as a mixtape from a teenage sweetheart, and moved to a world of free streaming music.  Again recalling a shallower experience, but maybe one that is more multi faceted, more tailored, more you.  The personalisation of music is a driver for isolation, you no longer have to exist within a genre bubble but can burst out and overlap a million times with patchwork tastes.  It may seem to follow that these new, unique musical tastes would make people experience an identity crisis.  However I am not sure that it fits with the discussions I am having around this topic.  It seems that there is a consensus that most people do not want to invest a large amount of time in discovering the perfect music but instead are quite happy to just have ‘good music’ delivered to them by radio or internet streaming service.  A single persons identity is not something they want to craft particularly, before they make have fallen into a genre and culture that would provide them an experience and a sociality.  Now the genre is no longer the crutch for musical experience and as a result tastes drift, more than likely driven by the medium through which people are accessing music.  In the same way that if your local record store only sold jazz it’s likely you’d end up at least listening to some of it, then music providers on the net will be directing tastes.

I don’t see any of the developments in music experience as negative or positive.  However the shifted ground becomes an interesting place to explore.  My project is aimed at re-materialising music, allowing exploration of the expand digital music space and also reconnecting physical, social interaction with music listening.

More to follow…

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