Quarantine Sonification

A composition derived from “joy score” data points gathered through a Google AIY Vision Kit during a day spent in physical and digital isolation.

Personal Project
Timeline: April 2020


In the beginning of quarantine I felt dissonace toward the tension between physical isolation (for those who could afford to do so) and the rapidly disintegrating boundary between ‘work’ and the rest of life as our digital selves became increasingly available. During this period I read Jenny Odell’s How To Do Nothing and considered what it meant for the majority our compressed work and social lives to be condensed and measured in 1s and 0s. 

To make this piece, I used a Google AIY Vision Kit that uses facial recognition technology to detect a human face, assess the given facial expression, and calculate a “joy score”: a measurement meant to translate our emotions into even more 1s and 0s. To think critically about this gap between our rich internal worlds and our perceived digital selves, computed for value, I spent a day in both physical and digital isolation. I used the kit to take pictures of my face at 30 minute intervals and used the resulting scores as input to alter a collection of sound samples from the quarantine routines of the peers I was separated from. Beyond this piece I am continually curious about how this period of time will impact the attention economy and the ways we choose to actively disengage. 

Listen to the piece here: