Ringtone Feedback: Letter Exchange with an Inmate from SCI Pittsburgh

Recently I received and replied to a letter from an inmate at SCI (State Correctional Institute) Pittsburgh. He shared his reaction to one of the tones in the project. I assume that he’d seen my appearance* on WQED‘s television show, Filmmakers Corner (hosted by Minette Seate), because the letter was addressed to me in c/o the show.

My appearance on the episode began with a shortened version of my *Mobile* Ringtone Performance. One of the tones that I played and discussed was the Western Penitentiary Whistle Tone. The man who sent the letter, who’s presently incarcerated at SCI Pittsburgh, wanted to know why I had recorded the whistle.

Locally Toned as a public work of art, is produced through a method of social practice. Instead of making and publishing a series of ringtones that I think would well-represent this region, I ask Pittsburghers for input (what tones should be recorded) and to collaborate (by working with me on audio recordings in the field). Participants answer these questions with me: “What does Pittsburgh sound like?” and “Which of these sounds should turned into ringtones to be shared with the public, free of charge?”

So lots of people have had a say regarding what sounds they’d like to hear as ringtones, but few residents of this area have provided formal (written) feedback regarding a published tone. How do people who live here feel about the content that is curated and published within the project? This man experiences the sound of the whistle in his daily life. Because he took the time to send a letter, he’s opened up dialogue about the tones as functioning signals and sounds. The letter-exchange allowed me to reflect more deeply about how experiencing a sound is very much shaped by the physical space within which it is heard. Since I consider his letter direct feedback from a stakeholder (a resident of this region), in the spirit of community accountability (Locally Toned is a public work of art), I’ve decided to publish our letters.

*The episode, BTW, will air again on WQED 13.1 on Saturday, October 23, 2010 at 10:00pm.


Filed under Locally Toned (all posts), Project Updates

3 responses to “Ringtone Feedback: Letter Exchange with an Inmate from SCI Pittsburgh

  1. I can certainly understand this man being unhappy by that sound since it’s a daily reminder of being in prison.

    If you were to do some Striptones (of the Strip Dist. I mean) I think some tones recorded at the Produce Terminal would create equally emotional reactions as the folks working at the wholesale businesses there are being forced out by the URA so they can redevelop the building.

    The folks working there or who have worked there would probably become quite emotional from hearing the sounds of that building and I’m sure that folks at the URA would become just as annoyed by the sounds of wholesalers in the terminal as the prisoner is at the sound of the bell because both bring about unpleasant reminders to the listener. For the prisoner it is his confinement, for the URA it’s the sound of people standing in their way in their effort to make the real estate in the Strip produce better tax income.

  2. Pingback: Inmate Correspondance Continues with Drawing of Western Pen Whistle « Locally Toned

Leave a Reply to W. D. Orkoskey Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s