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Entries in internet (7)


Audio Dust

Timo Kahlen is a German sound sculptor and media artist who has been making works since the end of the 80’s. While his sculptures and installations often need to be seen in real life to experience the tactile, perceptible vibrations, Kahlen has chosen not to expose his sculptural work online in video form. His interactive “net art” works are equally interesting however. A few of these are featured below. Put on your headphones, and click on the images to try them out:

(Audio Dust, 2011)

These works which run in the browser develop individually, are generative. Always live and different, as the viewer moves across, pauses or clicks at the responsive visual texture of the sound objects. As these works are made using Flash back in 2011, they won’t work on most smartphones, sadly.

(Signal-to-Noise, 2011)

There are quite some more to explore as well in his net art series, such as Scratch, Undo/Delete, Numbers. The interaction with Kahlen’s works isn’t so direct that it feels like a website, instead he’s really searching for a good balance between the autonomous and the direct, so it feels that there’s something organic to explore.

If you’d like to experience Kahlen’s physical sculptures, the next exhibition of his work is in Berlin, at the Ruine der Kuenste Berlin (Hittorfstr. 5, 14195 Berlin) from April 26 to May 24.


Cybraphon is happy with your tweets

Does your Facebook follower count or the amount of Twitter messages you receive influence your mood? It does for Cybraphon, an interactive sound installation by Edinburgh-based artist collective FOUND.

Cybraphon is like a mechanic band in a closet which plays everything between very sad and very happy music, depending on its ‘mood’. This mood is determined by things like Facebook friends, or website visitors.

Cybraphon is an interesting attempt to link the physical with the online world through music. It actually sounds quite nice! What I do miss is a live stream of some kind which shows the effect of the online activities.

Cybraphon will be unveiled at the Edinburgh Arts Festival today, 5 August 2009. Here are some demos of the music it plays:

<a href="">Demo: Aeolian Ode by Cybraphon</a>


10 tips for effective web sound design

Using sound on your website isn't always a good idea. In fact, it annoys people more often than not. This is probably caused by the enormous amount of web sites containing crappy sounds. The right use of sound though, can enhance the user experience. So if you want to do it anyway, here's a list of 10 tips to make the experience as pleasant as possible:

  1. Hire a sound designer
    This is a good one to start with. If you don't know much about sound design, hire someone who does, preferably a person with experience in user-interface sound design. He/she will (hopefully) already know how to include all tips on this list. 
  2. No background music
    A lot of people are listening to music while browsing the web. Don't interrupt them by playing music on your website. For some sites the use of music might enhance the overall experience, like web/sound-art and some specific sound-related web sites, but don't do it without warning your visitor (see tip 3). If you really want to give your website a continuous soundtrack, consider using a background atmosphere (see tip 4). 
  3. No auto-play
    If you decide to use music, don't have it start without the visitors' permission. If you ever opened an auto-playing MySpace page in a new browser tab for later review, you know what I'm talking about. And provide a mute-button: if a user doesn't like the sound and there's no way to turn it off, he/she will leave your website. 
  4. Try a background atmosphere
    If you keep it simple and quiet, this might work. Make a field recording at a location representative of your website and play it in the background at a low volume, like in this example. 
  5. Unobtrusive interface sounds
    Adding sounds to user-interface items can absolutely enhance the usability of your site. Try to keep these sounds unobtrusive in a way that a user can still hear them, even while listening to music, but without being disturbing while browsing in a quiet environment. 
  6. Keep sounds short
    A good way to prevent sounds from becoming annoying is by keeping them short. Imagine navigating a website with a second-long sound playing for every link your mouse cursor touches, that wouldn't be a pleasant experience, would it? 
  7. Use the right frequencies
    The human ear is most sensitive to sounds between 1kHz and 5kHz, so if you want people to hear the sounds, even on crappy laptop speakers set to low volumes, focus on this frequency range.
  8. Add extra functionality
    Do it right or don't do it at all. If you decide to use sound on your website you can give it extra functionality, more than just providing auditive feedback. Variations in timbre and pitch of the sounds can be used to tell the user more about the menu or the page he/she is browsing.    
  9. Make sound and design match
    Try to create sounds which match the design of your site as close as possible. If your design is rather futuristic, it would be strange to use very natural or recognizable instrumental sounds. In this case abstract electronic sounds would most probably complement the graphic design much better. 
  10. Care about the overall user experience 
    Don't just add sounds to your website because you think it's cool. Ask yourself what it means to the user, and how it will improve the overall user experience. If you don't find a clear answer to these questions, don't do it. Most internet users still prefer web sites to be silent. Be precautious, don't act like you don't care.

Do you know of a website with good sound design? Have you ever made sounds for the web? Do you have anything to add to this list? Please tell us by leaving a comment.


Listen to the world on Radio Aporee

Last week we took a look at SoundTransit, a website with many location based recordings, and I wrote about having a similar idea and how I was surprised to find out this already had been done. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, as I found a couple of similar projects.

There’s one of them I’d really like to share with you, as it comes closest to my vision of it. Radio Aporee shows us a large map, and each red dot resembles a sound recorded at that location. You can listen to the sounds by clicking on the dots, and add your own recordings without having to create an account.

One little problem: I tried to upload a sound myself, but it didn’t work. Hopefully a temporary bug? I really like browsing the sounds of the world like this.


Sound on websites: A sensitive subject

You probably recognize this situation: You’re surfing the web looking for inspiration, you click on some links, monitor your Twitter feed, and open pages in the background for later review. Suddenly your computer starts to scream!

It’s some rock song, very loud and unrecognizable because of it’s way-too-low bit rate. You don’t know where it’s coming from but you want it to stop immediately so you close all browser tabs and it’s quiet again.

Almost all people I ask about background music on websites tell me they find it totally annoying. A website just isn’t a thing you would expect to make any sound. People often listen to music while browsing the web, there’s no room for an extra layer of sound.

Click to read more ...


Go on a sonic journey with SoundTransit

I like to share my own recordings of the places I traveled to in the 'Places' category. I've been thinking of creating a system to collaboratively share these 'sonic pictures' from all over the world. It would be very inspiring to be able to listen to any part of the world.

But it seems I'm too late! SoundTransit, a project created by Derek Holzer, Sara Kolster and Marc Boon, does exactly that. You can search for sounds by keyword, country, city. You can also book a transit: choose your point of departure, a destination and an amount of stopovers, and your journey will be ready in a moment. I just went from Marrakech to Antwerp via Vienna. It basically just crossfades the files, but it's a nice idea.

Click to read more ...


Put your sounds in the clouds with SoundCloud

As you might have noticed I use the SoundCloud player on my website. For website owners it’s a nice way of offering streaming audio without having to worry about hosting and the use of bandwith. I’d like to share my experiences with this review.

What's SoundCloud?

As a artist it’s great to have a professional looking way of sharing music with fans, label owners and venues. You can create a set of tracks on SoundCloud to embed it on your MySpace page, a much better sounding solution than the standard MySpace player.

Click to read more ...