Zoom calls. What started off at the beginning of lockdown as a great way to stay connected to people, a handy tool to conduct your WFH meetings, the place for all those virtual pub quizzes and trivia nights, has now descended into a soulless, blank-stared hell. None of your colleagues have it in them to make small talk anymore. No one has any news anyway. Everyone has their cameras off because they are in bed and you stare at blank avatars as the disembodied voices of people you used to know drift and glitch around you. Basically it’s shit.
For anyone who can’t stand one more single, agonising second, we have some good news. Zoom Escaper is a new program designed to relieve you from the soul-numbing grind of online meetings. Created by artist Sam Lavigne, the free tool plays sounds and audio problems that will give you an excuse to make a quick getaway: dogs bark, babies cry, winds whistle, and grown men weep. Also available are construction noises, choppy audio feedback, and unwanted echoes. It’s the digital-age equivalent of Weasley’s Skiving Snackboxes for grown ups.
This isn’t Lavigne’s first crusade against Zoom. The artist, whose work deals with data, surveillance, cops, and automation, has previously created a program that continually checks your computer for the presence of Zoom and, if found, deletes it immediately. Another project in his series of work around digital slowdown, reducing productivity, and self-sabotage is 2016’s Slow Hot Computer, a website that makes your computer run slow and hot.
Watch a tutorial on how to set up Zoom Escaper below.