Over the past few months, Joel David Palmer (World Abounding) and I had been trying to get together to meet for the first time and create sounds, but we kept getting delayed by work, life, and facility schedules that didn't cross. I was finally able to rent a 4 hour block at the Environmental Education Center (EEC) at the rather unglamorously-named "East Side Recycling Center" in Iowa City on Sunday, May 11th - Mother's Day - at the only slot they had available: 7:30am to 11:30am.
The EEC is a very nice space: high ceilings, glass walls, bamboo floors, and lots of echo. Jon Harnish and I recorded here in June 2013. The building is only a couple years old, but is LEED "Platinum" Certified, which means LED lighting, solar panels, "garden" walls and roof, waterless urinals, and so forth. It definitely wants to be the building of tomorrow.
One thing I noticed in the kitchenette area of the EEC was that they had a typical compressor-based refrigerator with the usual rattle and high-pitched sound when operating. And while I didn't have a die to roll for this week's Junto choice, I chose to identify the sound of a refrigerator 30 years in the future in the context of daily life. This choice was solely because of my encounter with the compressor-based fridge sitting in a LEED "Platinum" building of today.
I definitely think refrigerators in 30 years will be mostly, if not totally, silent. There has been a lot of advancement in "solid state" technology for cooling in the past decade, in particular studying the magnetocaloric effect at Iowa State University, ferroelectric polymers at Penn State, and other advancements in Peltier devices (thermoelectric cooling).
Some of today's high-end refrigerators feature lcd screens with wifi and apps, including audio services like Pandora, and of course there are companies that make "fridge mounts" for various tablets, so sound or music for personal space soundtracks be can accessed already.
But when fridges are silent, will we miss that extra sound? Some might. Think about all the people with cell phones with ringtones that could use any sound, but they opt for the old-school ringing bell on landline phones of the past.
That's where we come in. We'll already have sounds created that are variations on old appliances or spaces. Maybe not exact replicas, because they can be too harsh or annoying, but our own twist on present day "appliance music".
When Joel and I discussed the possibility of recording something for this week's Junto, we agreed that we'd take an edit from what we recorded and present it in our own individual way.
This 90 second piece offers "refrigerator compressor" replacement, "cooking sound", and other grey or brown noises seemingly blended from HVAC systems and faucets.
I think the future of most homes is towards more silent or quieter machines, but I suspect a niche will be created where nostalgia for boutique "old sounds" that are processed and smoothed into a more pleasing ambient soundtrack has some demand.
Mark Rushton - two iPads, Samplr
Joel David Palmer - Ableton-processed guitar
More on this 123rd Disquiet Junto project — “Help Gizmodo.com record the soundscape of the home of the future” — at: http://disquiet.com/2014/05/08/disquiet0123-homeofthefuture/
More on the Disquiet Junto at: http://disquiet.com/?p=16588
Join the Disquiet Junto at: http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/
More on the Gizmodo.com Home of the Future at: http://homeofthefuture.gizmodo.com/