Room Tone

Sound Installation, 2007

In Room Tone, a homemade generative audio program combines recordings of various room tones — anywhere from thousands of recordings to a single recording — and sends the sounds to a 4 channel speaker system (one speaker in each corner of the room). This piece was originally created for Artist Space in New York, and subsequently shown at the Walter Phillips Gallery.

Room tones are the sound of rooms themselves, in which nothing — or nothing more than air moving gently — is happening. The tone of a room is therefore something like silence. The tone of this room is, however, complicated by the recordings playing in it, which are constantly changing and evolving the character of this room’s tone. The playback from the speakers ranges from very soft to almost deafening, and at times pulses with rhythms, and drama, as chunks of room tones which range in length from 0.001 second to 60 seconds play back, and move around the room. Further complicating the purity of this silence are a series of text-sketches on one wall of the space, which attempt to name, map or perhaps catalogue the sounds, with varying degrees of verisimilitude. And hopefully Cage smiles as he rolls over in his grave.