Zachary Kaiser
NO QUO Tones (2015)
Apple ring tones and alert tones

Bruno Latour suggests that all of our designed objects are “assemblies,” constructed of various materials and embedded with complex, messy, and often contradictory goals and ideologies. These assemblies are often seen as “matters of fact.” As such, the status quo is an acceptance of the designed world, where objects are understood as only existing in the form in which we interact with them. Latour argues that these matters of fact must become “matters of concern.”

How can our objects become “matters of concern?” How might we experience these “assemblies” that we currently think about as things that simply “exist?” Can sound can help us rethink our relationship to the technologies with which we interact everyday, specifically our phones and computers? What are the sounds that turn these “matters of fact” into “matters of concern” and why don’t such designed objects make those sounds in the first place?

NO QUO TONES is a kit for using sound to intervene in our relationships with our technologies, and aims to help change these matters of fact into matters of concern. The kit includes iPhone ringtones and Apple alert tones as well as a set of instructions for how to install these tones on your computer. The tones themselves are comprised of various sounds that indicate the assembled nature of the iPhone and MacBook, including sounds from bauxite mines, toxic runoff from rare earth mines, data center server racks, and endangered birds.

NO QUO TONES was exhibited in 2015 as a part of the Get Lost Gazetteer at Crane Arts in Philadelphia as part of DesignPhiladelphia's Exchange Exhibition. This iteration of the work was composed of a hand-painted wooden sign that invited visitors to call a phone number "for matters of concern." When called, the phone number would automatically play all the sounds from the original project. Of course, being that the sounds are played through the visitor’s phone, the phone becomes at once the object of critique and the medium through which the artwork is experienced.

Mounted to the sign was a plexiglass brochure-holder that contained information about the project and a link to download the ringtones and the instructions for installation.