Sound Playground is a tactile, semi-predictable ecosystem of objects that emit sound to communicate with one another when they want to but that you can also collaborate with by triggering some of their sonic behaviors. The goal is to decentralize the human, favoring collaboration instead of one-directional, hierarchical modes of relating to human and non-human elements alike.
Sound Playground consists of a set of objects that emit sound upon being moved, touched, placed next to other objects, and activated by outside sounds. The system is semi-autonomous – the objects have a degree of agency. They can emit sound when they want to, sometimes triggering one another’s sonic behaviors. They can decide when they want to react to your tactile or sonic input and when to refuse cooperation by going into sleeping mode. They can decide which sonic behaviors to exhibit at a given time. Finally, they can decide when to record small snippets of environmental sound in order to insert them to an ongoing composition and when to play this composition back into the world.
Due to the ever-shifting behaviors of this, rather punky, rebellious, Sound Playground, your experience with it will never be the same. However, you may be able to notice patterns as you get to know the personality of each sound object and as you observe the socialites that these objects form with one another. While you, as the human, are gently decentralized, you can impress your sounds and interactions onto the playground’s memory, shaping some of its current and future behaviors. I call this collaboration.
The goal of this project is to create a meditative environment where you can focus on tactile sensations and create sounds with an opaque, autonomous ecosystem by observing and discovering its properties. It is also an opportunity to be with technology that demands respect and that respects your opacity in return. Neither party is expected to be fully knowable in order for collaboration to happen. This experiment aims to examine the effects of such encounters.
Sound Playground explores several themes. Opacity, object agency, tactility and sound, therapeutic play, abstracted anthropomorphism, awkwardness of form, and horizontal relationally. The experience is for those who might enjoy an anti-Alexa in their life. For those who might want to rethink their relationship with technology and other non-human elements.