In dependence on movements like Slow Food
or Slow Living
, Slow Listening
is about finding new forms of awareness regarding to music consumption that do justice to music as a form of art.
This website is the documentation of three design concepts, developed as part of my BA thesis about music-listening behavior at the Interface Design program at University of Applied Sciences, Potsdam
. The objects and concepts shown here are not to be seen as marked-ready products, but rather as critical design objects aiming to spark debate about today's forms of consumption.
The times we are living in are fast moving and hectic. Modern technology is altering the way we live, work and consume, supporting a fast and superficial lifestyle. A way to cope with these new challenges is hard to find. Nowadays it seems more and more important to critically reflect on one's behavior in order to define a viewpoint and find a healthy way to live.
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The consumption of music has changed in the recent years, mainly influenced by technological development of media and playback devices. In many situations, music listening has shifted from a main-activity to a side-activity (H. Weber has coined the term passive listening
). Music is no longer in the center of our attention, but is heard while focusing on other things. Subsequently, due to the change in perception, music is in danger of degenerating into an unnoticed background noise.
Listen Carefully is a sensitive headphone that reminds the user to focus and concentrate while listening to music. The headphone lowers the playback volume on juddering movements, thus "forcing" the user to sit still and relax. By intervening into the user’s musical enjoyment, the principle of conditioning is used, rewarding the user on "right behavior" and facilitating a learning effect. In the long term, Listen Carefully supports qualitative and focused music-consumption in an appropriate environment.
Nowadays it seems almost forgotten that, not too long ago, music was a limited resource and tied to a physical place. Through mobile playback devices and wireless media-streaming services it is now possible to access almost every piece of music that was ever recorded from almost everywhere on earth. This development has shifted the perception and reduced the value of music from an artistic piece to be enjoyed on one's living room to a barely noticeable standard.
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PlayAt brings back the exclusiveness of music by limiting the playback to a certain area or place that can be defined by the musician. Thus it is possible to make sure that songs that have reference to a place can only be heard there. PlayAt is a physical playback device, showing the distance and direction to the closest playback place. As soon as the listener approaches this place, the song can be heard on the internal speakers.
PlayAt enables the creation of unique listening situations, taking into consideration the place and situation of playback. Music consumption is enriched by a novel quality similar that of a live concert. The listener is actively challenged and involved. PlayAt encourages the user to reflect on the ubiquity of the music and to make the selection of music and listening situation a conscious decision.
Popular music playback software is designed for accessing music libraries by search queries or playlists. Nowadays, quick growing digital music collections are often exceeding the size the user can cope with. About two-thirds of an average digital music collection is almost unheard. Those rarely played tracks are overlooked and hard to recognize with state-of-the-art software players.
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Adopt-A-Song is an iTunes plugin that takes care of the unattended songs. By providing alternative visualizations it becomes visible which songs are unheard or rarely played. If a song is unheard for a longer time, it will be put up for adoption on a corresponding website. This song will be advertised online, until a new owner is found, who offers to bring attention to the song. Once the new owner accepts the adoption, the song (and corresponding DRM-rights) will be transferred. iTunes will still display the "abandoned" songs to remind the former user of his own solicitousness.
By visualizing one's behavior, the user is motivated to rethink the usage and content of his own digital music library. By removing the songs from the music collection, the user is actively motivated to change his behavior. Adopt-A-Song aims to facilitate a focused, selected and qualitative music consumption.