Signal Moods

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Signal Moods is an interactive sound sculpture, one of the research innovation in the project named, “Digital Sense.” Signal Moods examines similarities and differences of text interpretation between humans and computers. Signal Moods asks viewers  to spend time listening and considering the relationship between themselves and their local society. Viewers can listen to the choir at any moment or quit the show and begin the audio again. However, the sounds will never be the same. Additionally, any experimentation by viewers is very welcome, such as selecting different topics to test the system-synthesized audio. Participating on actual social media is also encouraged; people can manipulate the algorithm of the software and see the results in real time.

Signal Moods plays a role as a point of investigation to examine two socializing spaces between digital space – Twitter, and physical space – a local area. Signal Moods’ program is always set to search for the trending topics in the current location of the art piece. The top six trending topics shown on the screen are popular topics in the current location. Some of these topics, viewers may not be familiar with, while others they may have heard about before. Often, some trending topics are also misleading. It can be entertaining to solve the puzzle of what is going on with some strange topic. It is interesting to see how people who are located in the same area at the moment share their thoughts on things and what impact they had on their lives currently. In any case, with a current location scale, such as town, district, city, state, and country, Signal Moods has already shown how an actual space in physicality affects what humans perceive in digitality.

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The art piece has a mixed period aesthetic. The visual aesthetic draws from the present and the past, while the audio is composed with the simplest timeless beep sound. This sound imitates Internet dial-up tones, the most familiar sound of technology back in the day. Each beeping sound uses real time tweets as an input to calculate values for the sound synthesization. The program compares this input with two databases: the edited version of data compiled from four lexicons, namely NRC Emotion Lexicon, Bing Liu’s Opinion Lexicon, MPQA Subjectivity Lexicon, and Harvard General Inquirer, and the music chords and emotion database.


“Signal Moods” is part of the research project –“Digital Sense,” which currently experiments on two research innovations of the project.

The project addresses a new additional sense of human—“digital sense” —in a contemporary world, where digital technology is a new method of communication in daily life. Digital sense is an organism’s developed intelligent capacity that provides information to perceive contemporary data, which is sharpened by social media.With today’s technology, people have a new method of connectivity to both other humans and to machines, which has shown that there are still many perspectives on things that have never been seen or thought of before due to humans’ limitations of perception. The thesis proposes that when humans use the digital sense with any of their five traditional recognized senses (according to western philosophy where it classifies human’s basic senses into five categories) they can absorbedly perceive contemporary data, especially Internet’s data. For example, social media users may have better understandings of the contemporary methods of interaction, such as meme-creating and GIF-searching, hidden text-messages meanings, and expressions or contents of emoji combinations.

For brief information about another work in this research, “Social Media without the Internet,” please click here.


Note**Video documentation is coming soon.

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