Close Your Eyes

A focused listening experience

Painting used in composition above by Anne Blenker
It’s impossible to grab someone’s attention online for more than a few moments and music consumption often occurs in parallel to other mundane tasks like checking emails and scrolling feeds. Close Your Eyes is a focused listening experience which exists in an otherwise unfocused world.

Instructions

Open Close Your Eyes on Google Chrome or Firefox on a webcam enabled laptop. Try sitting 1 ½ feet (not too close, not too far) from your webcam in a dark room. Darker the room, the better. Hint: if there is a glare on your computer: it won’t work. I’ve noticed it helps if you’re sitting at a normal desk because of the webcam’s placement. Gaze into the center of the pupil on the site. Raise your brightness to cast as much light on your face as possible and close your eyes. If this fails, I invite you to lay on the couch, put on your favorite record, and close your eyes.

Thanks to Moby for contributing “Going Wrong” as the demo track for this experiment. In a band? Lucky. Try it out with your own track by clicking the “Upload a Song” button in the top left corner. Choose an MP3 with ID3 tags and embedded artwork. It may take a few minutes to upload and process. The app will do it’s best job to pick a color which best suites your aesthetic. It will also create a new URL which you can use to share your track.


Background

I conceptualized the original version of this app almost three years ago as a concept for Cut Copy. It was titled “Free Your Mind to Listen.” I’ve since developed several different versions of it and proposed the idea to artists of all sizes. It never really landed properly and I begin to realize it would be a hard sell due to the fact that all sorts of things can throw it off: tech, lighting, skin tone, etc… Yet, I couldn’t shake the notion of it and it crept into my mind due to it’s simple elegance. It’s sort of the ultimate artist listening experience. An audio player which requires your fans to pay attention to your music. That may sound a bit pretentious but when we remove one sense another becomes much more potent.

It sounds good.

This is a very simple experiment in computer vision technology and easy to construct. That’s due to all the hard work the open-source community has done on this topic. I want to thank Alex Wallar for his work on Camgaze which finally brought the algorithm I was utilizing into the browser. We use your webcam to detect whether your head is in frame and then begin to analyze your eyes. Depending on if we can detect pupils, we can assume what state your eyes are in. It’s not perfect so I’ve added a “zen” variable which fades the music up and down depending on the reading. This creates a smoother and less glitchy audio experience.

The design of the site itself is quite stark but that’s for good reason. In dark rooms a screen of white will cast more light onto your face and in turn give a better reading. For instance, I built this one version in which the screen turned black when you closed your eyes. Soothing… but that created all sorts of problems. I’m using Paper.js to design the eye visual. I especially like that it closes when you close your eye because it’s an interface element you don’t get to see.


One last thing. If you find this interesting or useful, I’m currently raising money for the Pablove Foundation. An organization which helps fight childhood cancer. Thanks for your support and as always, thanks for listening.