Music in the Age of Surveillance

Download for Google Chrome

Music in the Age of Surveillance is a Chrome browser extension which keeps track of cookies placed in the browser when visiting a website. For each page that is browsed, Music in the Age plays an algorithmically generated melody based on the number of cookies that each site places.

In today’s state of online security, our online browsing habits are continuously tracked by a multitude of parties without permission. But even for those aware of it, the methodologies as well as the very “presence” of this tracking feels completely disconnected from the very activity of browsing. In contrast to the feeling of being followed in real life, online tracking creates an abstraction detached from its emotional or material context. We cannot see the tracker nor do we have a feeling of danger or discomfort. Our browsing experience is not superficially altered by this transparent tracking, giving most little incentive to feel bothered by it.

Music is a powerful medium to convey raw, unfiltered emotion. The emotional context of different note intervals is evident throughout history – just the introduction of the different scales has prompted intense outrage. Music and sound are also used to very strong ends in film to give emotional cues to viewers. Similarly, a variety of notification sounds often evoke and inform our responses in our digital interactions.

Music in the Age aims to use this human quality to combine repeated exposure to sonic content which frames the emotional context by concretizing our understanding of the methodologies tracking our behavior that encapsulates our reality.