Do you hate ringtones? Try a silent one. No, a really silent one.

Conceptual artists invents a ringtone that consists of pure silence.

Jonathon Keats

How do you listen to the sound of silence? It sounds like some kind of corny philosophical question, but conceptual artist Jonathon Keats has decided to address the quandary through an unusual medium: a cell phone ringtone. Download it to your phone (it's free), and then your handset will ring with four minutes and thirty-three seconds of pure silence instead of that irritating Kelly Clarkson ringtone that you've been using for the past two years.

Keats named the ringtone "My Cage (Silence for Cellphone)" after the artist John Cage, who once similarly composed four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence. But Cage's composition, in 1952, was not "perfect" silence because of the analog recording technology the was available at the time. Keats, on the other hand, produced "My Cage" with a computer. The original .wav file was 23 megabytes, too big for a ringtone on many cell phone models, so it was recompressed from 799 kilobytes to 270 kilobytes.

I guess it gives a whole new meaning to the term "silent mode."

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.


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