At some point we realised we had engineered a form of hybrid software, a project plugging into interconnected knowledge we had assembled from various researches, from the history of freeware computer programmes to the psycho-social affects of digital media and the sonic explorations of electronic music. So <earshot> is the result of an experiment into cultural splicing: part toy, part tool, part musical instrument and partly an on-going resistance against the increasing Disneyfication of the internet.
We know that <earshot> can open all common sound file formats that you are likely to find on the web (the only exception being Real Audio), and we realise that the web is now the world's largest sample library. So this is our starting point for thinking about how to re-organise, re-format and re-use the 0s and 1s of the internet. <earshot> transforms the listener into an operator, and every occasion of its use establishes a new audio path through the web. <earshot> contributes to a culture of collective expression.
<earshot> has been designed with a conscious disregard for any conventions of music software (there is no tempo or time signature setting, no musical grid within which to place sounds, and no musical notation of any kind). Sound files are loaded into an audio spike on the left side of the screen, from where they can be dropped into an audio field that comprises the rest of the screen. This acoustic space enables the user to organise sounds in a non-linear manner. We intent to evolve ideas for this interface further with the next release of <earshot>.
Through the <earshot> mailing list, we want to engage with people in order to explore the possibilities for building our own software. This list has enabled direct feedback from users, as well as allowing energetic discussion that has ranged from the aesthetics of composition to related cultural issues, as well as the users' own projects with <earshot>. Our motivation has been to get <earshot> out in order to watch its affect. It is this community of users, and the idea of developing and sustaining this community, that forms the central motive for the future development of the <earshot> project.