The Public's Playlist – Pause to Share

Headphones give us the ability to make our music like our thoughts, something that no one else can hear, something that’s private or something we can choose to share. We choose to share. We ask you to pause, to share your music.

How this project got started: During my 2013 visit to New York, my friend shared one of her great creative ideas for a photography project. I was intrigued; she wanted to show a diverse representation of individuals listening to music through headphones out on the street and make note of what they were listening to. I felt it was a way to break the solitude of listening to music in public spaces.

I found a great article that takes this idea further, titled, “How Headphones Changed the World”, written by Derek Thompson. He mentions that..

..Music is a social glue for the species, as a way to make groups and keep them together. Headphones allow music to be enjoyed friendlessly — as a way to savor our privacy, in heightened solitude. Headphones might represent the most important inflection point in music history. The triumph of headphones is that they create, in a public space, an oasis of privacy. Headphones give us absolute control over our audio-environment, allowing us to privatize our public spaces. But it also represents nothing less than a fundamental shift in humans’ basic relationship to music.

The projects’ goal is to open a different kind of shared space of what music can bring. To tune in on what everyone is listening to and break the solitude, to share our playlist. Welcome to The Public's Playlist.

(Hover over image for caption to appear)

Shot on 35mm film b&w and color. © 2013-2015 - present Marisa Sarto

My personal story with headphones: This project was also motivated by my personal frustration with headphones. Headphone were never compatible with me. I wear hearing aids, so I would get feedback noise whenever I placed headphones on top of them. My solution was to wear headphones without my hearing aids. I could get a sense of the music but it wasn't the greatest set up. It also made situations awkward whenever someone tried to speak to me. I wouldn't be able to hear them, even if i took my headphones off. I'd have to explain myself, get my hearing aids out, put them in, then ask them to repeat themselves. It was a little embarrassing, awkard and strangers would be confused.

I thought things would change for me when I got blue-tooth compatible hearing aids! I was excited by the idea that I could listen to my playlist directly through my hearing aids! I quickly realized how bad of an idea that was. First, the technology wasn't the greatest. Sound would cut in and out. In addition, no one around me would have the visual cue to the fact that I'm listening to music and not them. Headphones are also an important visual reference, especially in public. Maybe we should just treat everyone on the street as if they couldn't hear! Think about how inclusive that would be! For folks that couldn't hear, folks that are listening to music, or folks that might be listening to music. 

You can follow this project By: