The TSG Toolkit seeks to reintroduce a form of active participation in the articulation of public space.
Conditions for free and open public space in contemporary cities are mitigated by an array of forces. Surveillance and security systems track our moves and transactions. Marketing forces compete for the captivation of our attention in bus stops, subway passages, and public squares. The privitization of broad sectors of urban space to the profit of large, public corporations (ie: new 42nd St in Manhattan or Potsdamer Platz in Berlin) have resulted in ever more scripted urban experiences for the passers-by. We are witnessing the saturation of the image within dense urban environments, and with it an exhaustion of certain image strategies for intervening within public space.
The popularity of mobile audio devices like the iPod points toward a desire to personalize the experience of the contemporary city with one's own private soundtrack. These devices also provide varying degrees of privacy within public space, affording the listener certain exceptions to conventional protocols for social interaction within the public domain. Yet, to what degree does this contribute to a retreat or withdrawal of the modern urbanite by distancing him or her from the encounters and frictions that make urban public space such a vital component of democratic societies?
The TSG Toolkit supports the creation of shared social spaces within which people collaborate on the cultivation of sonic environments. The Toolkit builds on the practice of “playlist sharing” (sharing sequential lists of favorite music files amongst friends across a network connection) to articulate new terrain for social interaction in contemporary cities. The project attempts to spatialize this practice in the context of everyday urban environments as a means to transform passive mobile listeners into active participants in shaping the sonic topography of urban public space.