Category Archives: Project Updates

EVERYBODY MUST GET TONED (at First Night Pittsburgh 2010)


Hark! The herald cell phones sing with songs of sugar gliders, mechanical musical instruments and throat singers!

Stop by Locally Toned’s store front video installation to get the sounds of Pittsburgh as free ringtones for your cellular phone. Made specially for First Night 2010, this audio-visual montage features Pittsburgh ringtone contributions from T. Foley’s public art project. On the spot, viewers may utilize special codes within the video to send tones directly to their cell phones. The ringtones are free, but standard rates for receiving MMS/picture messages apply.

The installation is located at 933 Penn Ave. Pittsburgh. Visit the First Night website for further information.

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New Video! Locally Toned Television Intro

I uploaded a new video–the intro from the Locally Toned TV Show at The Waffle Shop. This is the segment where a very literate cat, Raymond the Puma (a.k.a. Donnell Pearl), interviews me about the project. You’ll hear a number of tones in this segment and me operate my performance gear. Watch it NOW!

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Inmate Correspondence Continues with Drawing of Western Pen Whistle

If you’ve been following the blog posts related to the Western Pen Whistle Tone, you may be interested to see this drawing from inside the institution.

This past winter, the State Correctional Institute (SCI) Pittsburgh declined my request for a visit to see, photograph, and learn more about the whistle. Since I’m interested in telling the stories about the sounds that become ringtones within this project, I’m also interested in showing the sources from which the sounds come. Over in the Manchester/North Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the whistle is easy to hear–every day at 8:40pm, when it goes off. It’s just not easy to see. Since I wasn’t able to take or use any actual image of the whistle, I used this scan of a vintage postcard of Western Penitentiary as the icon for the tone.

The drawing at the top of this post was sent by the male inmate who wrote to me in August after seeing my appearance on WQED’s Filmmakers Corner. In his initial letter, he asked about my choice to publish the sound of the whistle as a ringtone and expressed his reaction (as someone who hears the sound on a daily basis).

You can read our initial letter exchange here. The gentleman who drew this picture also suggested some ringtone-ideas. Since I told him I take requests for tones, I will record and publish one of his suggestions.

I appreciate that this man took the time to write back to me and to share his drawing of the whistle.

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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.


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Video Shorts from Locally Toned TV at the Waffle Shop

Check out a series of selected video shorts excerpted from the July 9, 2010 Locally Toned TV show at the Waffle Shop. The first set features videos from some of the live ringtone contributors that evening. I’ll add more content from the television show in weeks to come!

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Photo Documentation of Locally Toned TV

A photo montage by Anna Lee Fields. Below are selected photos she took during the recording of Locally Toned TV at the Waffle Shop, July 9, 2010.

From the outside in (color).

From the outside in (with calendar), black and white.

Donnell Pearl as the cool *cat* who interviewed me.

Lenka Clayton, artist and temporary Waffle Shop staff member, works the controls.

Setting up a shot.

Gettin’ ready for the show (long shot).

Encyclopedia Destructica (Christopher Kardambikis and Jasdeep Khaira), one of Locally Toned’s Old and New Media Residency co-hosts. They were my first guests. We visited about their creative contributions to Locally Toned.

Justin Hopper, this year’s Old and New Media Resident Artist, was up next on the show. He talked about his project, Public Record, and brought his goldfish on the show–wanted me to get a tone from the little dude. That didn’t happen…

Artist Ayanah Moor, ringtone contributor and informal project adviser came on the show to perform a new ringtone.

Video and filmmaker (and ringtone contributor) Caleb Foss ran camera for Locally Toned TV.

Video artist and musician Keith Tassick performed his famously subtle *Ring*tone live!

Dave English took time away from his television show to be a guest on Locally Toned TV, too.

Spontaneous ringtone contributor Ricardo Iamuuri plays the hand harmonica (a harmonica made from only his hands).

Another spontaneous ringtone contributor–Christine “Scout” Smith played a lovely tune on her concertina.

Contributor Scott Davidoff (a.k.a. Edith Leadbottom).

Turadg Aleahmad, accompanist on the Mayan Horn, and Ms. Edith Leadbottom rehearse the ringtone, “You Are the One for Me.”

As the show is winding down…

Thanks to Anna Lee Fields for the lovely photos, and to the Waffle Shop, all the guests and audience members.

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Waffle Shop Sign Featuring Locally Toned Quote

I’ve been meaning to post this sign above the Waffle Shop–it’s a quote from project research. I didn’t know that the airspace was public property for the purposes of sonic transmission until I read this thorough article by Sumanth Gopinath called “Ringtones, or the auditory logic of globalization.”

Much and belated thanks to the Waffle Shop for putting this quote “up in lights” the week I produced Locally Toned TV at the Waffle Shop. That billboard’s changing every week–you can check what’s (literally) up by clicking here.

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Locally Toned (Has Landed) in Berlin

I’m excited to be here as part of S.Low Projekt to capture a new series of tones that answer the question:

So far, I’ve been going on some Ringtone Reconnaissance Missions,

but I’d really like to connect with some people in the city to collaborate on some tones. Please help spread the word!

Tomorrow I’m on a panel:

Friday I’m giving an artist presentation and then am doing an Open Studio Ringtone Recording Session.

Alles klar?! Danke schön!

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This Friday, July 9th–Locally Toned TV at the Waffle Shop!

What is it?

An exciting broadcast featuring the nuts, bolts and antics of T. Foley’s original ringtone creation/public art project, Locally Toned. This late night show will include on-set interviews, performances, ringtone re-enactments, a DIY ringtone demonstration, and the live recording of (at least) one new ringtone by a special guest.

Where is it?

Get your fine self to the Waffle Shop in East Liberty, or tune in to http://www.waffleshop.org/ to watch a live feed of the show from 11pm to 1am Friday July 9, 2010. Waffle Shop seating is limited, so if you miss the live show, don’t worry–I’ll edit and post a Locally Toned TV highlights reel!

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Locally Toned to Record Ringtone Live on This Week’s Unemployment Show

PSSST! T. Foley will be on The Unemployment Show this Saturday night (June 12, 2010) at the Waffle Shop to record a fabulous new ringtone. Described as “unemployment talk, sketch comedy, and irreverent views from your host David T. English,” the show is popular–last week’s show was packed. So get there early if you’d like to get a seat and chow down on some yummy waffles in a cool television set environment.

You may recognize Dave’s name–he’s the fellow who forced the wayward puppet Nicky the Ninny to contribute a tone to the project.

DOUBLE PSSST! Foley will host her own Locally Toned Television shows at the Waffle Shop on Friday July 9th (11pm-1am) and Sunday July 11th (11am-1pm–a family-friendly open ringtone recording session!). Mark your calendars now!

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