Communication within the domestic space has long been associated with intimate and private dialogue between members of family. The sounds of conversations around a dinner table, bedtime stories, spousal confessions, sibling turmoil etc. are produced in the four walls that surround the many kinds of spaces we designate and imagine as our home. These are private, personal and deeply guarded spaces.
But now, our understanding of a home is shifting, moving from a physical architecture bound between four walls to one whose barriers are transparent, commercially permeable and enmeshed in the ‘internet of things’. Our dwellings are becoming virtual, interconnected and hyperlinked spaces, and this digital expansion brings with it massive societal and ethical implications.
As networked technology has entered our domestic dwellings (c.1920s with radio, 1950s with television), we have gained access to new information and sensory experiences, while simultaneously chipping away at the meaning of intimacy and the importance of privacy – rendering these sensitive moments vulnerable to interception, quantification and commodification. With antenna, phone lines, modems, satellites, and now 5G, we have been networking our homes to a greater and greater extent since the 1920s. In so doing, we are bartering our right to privacy for access and entertainment. The curiosities, desires, conflicts, experiments, whispers and bellows from inside the home can now be amplified into a networked catalogue, potentially accessible to solicitors and institutions alike.
For this work we collaborated with sound designers Rob Clouth and Jakab Pilaszanovich to build a soundscape that these machines internalise while ‘sniffing’ homes for data from which to ‘learn.’ Using the British national anthem as a template, we use the domestic landscape to feed into an algorithm that sequences sound through concatenative synthesis, mosaicing sounds of cleaning, toothbrushing, the TV/radio on, chatter in the house, familial drama.