What is Locally Toned

T. Foley’s cell-phone based work Locally Toned is a public art/original ringtone creation project. Through it, the artist captures important or amusing sounds identified by participants, and turns those sounds into ringtones to be shared with others. All of the sounds are representative of collaborators’ personal experiences, environments and/or geographical regions, and are described by Foley as “tiny audio documentaries that play back over cell phones.” Since she began the project in 2009, her main focus has been on creating an audio portrait of Pittsburgh (where she lived until 2012). Because the project emphasizes shared creativity over commerce, the tones are distributed freeof-charge at www.locallytoned.org and via Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). Unlike traditional works of public art, such as murals and outdoor sculptures, Locally Toned presents itself elusively, at unexpected times and in unexpected places (when users receive calls on their cell phones).

The goals of the project are technological empowerment, community service and the substitution of a system of shared creativity for one of commerce (the distribution of music industry ringtones). The project was realized and supported within Deeplocal's Old and New Media Residency program (with additional support from co-host Encyclopedia Destructica), and has been supported by The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Fine Foundation, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. Foley’s partner, Scott Davidoff, currently provides and maintains the technology behind locallytoned.org.

Additional aspects of the project include

A Blog, where Foley shares photographs and stories about the project participants, and ringtone audio files.

Public interventions, such as her *Mobile* Ringtone Performance and Human Billboard Intervention.
2-d art cards (a means to distribute the sounds via business sized cards with photos, MMS requests and QR codes).


Smith, Terri C., It’s for You: Conceptual Art and the Telephone; Catalog, Housatonic Museum of Art, February 24, 2011.

T. Foley interviewed by Minette Seate on WQED's Filmmakers' Corner: Travel (excerpt); episode aired September 13, 2010.

Martin, Nathan, Gutter Tech: Squinting at Technology; Contagious Magazine, Issue 21/Q4 2009.

McCoy, Adrian, Pittsburgh sounds ringing on cell phones soon; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 2, 2009.

Foley interviewed by Katherine Fink on WDUQ; July 29, 2009.