re|cord by re|thread


1. the sound of software tranquillity 1
At the end of the work day, a software researcher colleague was tasked with closing all of their open programs, letting the computer wind down. Once the software activity of the day had stopped, a program was run, recording the software activity of the kernel for one second. During this one second the human made no interaction with the computer.
The entire dataset was sonified repeatedly, resulting in the artistic research article the sound of software tranquillity published in Ruukku issue 15. Zooming in further and further, until every microsecond of the trace was audible as rhythm, one second of an idle computer turned into 47 hours of sound. Two days of constant listening, with long stretches of activity separated by seconds to minutes to hours of silence.
We present a few short excerpts from the heart of the computer. The entire recording is available at [DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.4153544].

Software object
Many things happen in the software heart of the computer, the kernel, and there are many ways to measure them. You could trace the communication between applications and the operating system (so called system calls) or measure the temperature of the components fluctuate with power use. This work uses the ftrace tool which, among other things, records function calls inside the Linux kernel. These function calls do not paint a complete picture of all that is happening inside the computer. Yet, since it is virtually impossible to obtain such an exhaustive observation of every aspect of the system at the same time, it serves as a good approximation.

”Clock signal is the mechanism that establishes the flow-of-time. Without it, the order for all events cannot be arranged and, consequently, no useful tasks can be performed.” (Xiu, L. (2017), Clock technology: The next frontier p. 28)
2. ci-poetry
The interactive installation ci-poetry simulates the concept of collaborative coding or continuous integration (CI) through generative poetry creation. The installation has been designed for the specific context of R1, Sweden's first reactor hall, now dismantled and used as a cultural venue. In the installation, a collective poem is composed and sonified by 12 “poets” who each contribute with a line of their own source poem.

Participants trigger a collaboration by touching one of the capacitive sensors placed on 12 rails in the hall. A random line from their poem is chosen and placed in a random line of the collaborative poem, successfully merging their contribution with the existing poem. If two or more poets happen to edit the same line, the merge fails, and the changed are not recorded, symbolizing the behavior of continuous integration.

The generated poem is then sonified into an arrangement of chords varying with each poem edit. The poem is synthesized though a text-to-speech engine and read out loud in an artificial voice. The collective poem is also projected in real time in the hall.
3. re|Traces of Search
The software art installation 're|Traces of Search' probed human-software relationships by examining in detail a specific and situated action: searching on the web. The work exposed the inner workings of this human/non-human connection; the software - the keystrokes, the scripts and function calls occurring during the exchange - were revealed as a tangible artifact and interactive sonification.

DIS 2020: More than Human Centered
re|Traces of Search was accepted into the DIS 2020 conference themed More than Human Centred Design and will be displayed virtually at the conference in July 2020.

"re|Traces of Search dives deeply into the processes that govern our most mundane actions, such as googling a pop star. What appears to be a routine action, akin to finding an entry in a book, is actually governed by a web of specifically engineered processes that each, in their own way, influences and affects the ways that we interact with information. By exploding the processes into a physical object, the installation allows us to perform the search like a musical instrument. We are invited to enter into a dialogue with the algorithm, who is usually our invisible mediator."
The DIS2020 Chairs Sarah Fdili Alaoui, David NG McCallum, Oscar Tomico
4. the sound of software tranquillity 2 See the sound of software tranquillity 1 above.
5. Browser Chance Music v1
Browser Chance Music was a space for a radically different relationship between user and software. Evanescent and imperceptible internet activity emanating from a smartphone is revealed through immersive sounds and visuals.
Activating this audiovisual system with your own smartphone gives a sonic and visual presence to the evanescent and imperceptible internet activity that emanates from an object which is often quite personal, but largely unknown. Defamiliarizing the smartphone and revealing the aesthetics of its operation opens the doors to a new relationship with our constant companion.

This project was a collaboration between the re|thread collective and Henrik Frisk, professor of music at KMH, and funded by NAVET.

Software object
Internet activity happens through tiny packets of data sent between IP adresses. Nowadays, most of these packets are encrypted so that the owner and users of a WiFi network cannot read your communication. In this piece, attributes such as who owns the server being communicated with, where the server is located, how much data is being exchanged and how active the connection is are fused into an immersive sonic experience.
6. the sound of software tranquillity 3 See the sound of software tranquillity 1 above.
7. Pellow
Pellow is an interactive installation that reveals what happens under the hood of a browser when you visit web pages.

Pellow is an interactive installation that reveals what happens under the hood of a browser when you visit web pages. When you browse a page, your browser communicates with many different pages and companies around the world. With Pellow, you see and hear the browser interacting with many other machines all over the world to fetch all of the content. You get a chance to observe where this content comes from and how many organizations and machines around the globe are solicited to deliver the web page that you want. The sonification of these intense software exchanges complements the visual representations, in order to let you fully feel the complexity of a web browser.

Pellow was displayed at Tekniska museet, Stockholm, in October 2020.
8. the sound of software tranquillity 4 See the sound of software tranquillity 1 above.
9. RFC:675:08
RFC:675:08 was a visual light installation presented in central Stockholm 5-13 December 2020 as part of the Nobel Week Lights festival. Through 7 movements of internet traffic analysis, the internet activity into and out of Stockholm was visualised in real time. This sonification was made just after from the same data stream with the same formal structure, matching the visual piece.

Movements 1 & 2: Origin and destination locations
Movements 3 & 4: Speed and frequency
Movements 5 & 6: Amplitude
Movement 7: Protocols

Software object
The Internet is one of the largest human achievments ever. It is hard to overstate its importance to contemporary society, which grows by the minute, from silly memes to life and death national security. In RFC:675:08 we observe a slice of the internet traffic as a whole, into and out of Stockholm: its high frequency and vast variety of uses.