Nobody likes online ads. And before you @ me–because I know, Fast Company has them, too–know that I have chosen to support journalism by not installing an ad blocker.
But if I didn’t care about my own livelihood or the value of a free press, I’d install the hell out of AbEXP. (And for the purposes of this article, I did, for about 5 minutes.)
AbEXP is an ad-blocking Chrome plug-in. Rather just erasing all of the banner ads from your view, it turns them to static, much like an old television that has lost its signal. In the background, you hear a soundtrack by the Copenhagen electronic music duo Kenton Slash Demon. It sounds like the sort of funky world synth music that would have been a ’90s hit for a slightly darker hearted Enya crowd, or all those people who bought CDs of the Benedictine monks.
Dragging your cursor across any static banner alters the beat and the instrumentation. But why have music at all, you may wonder? The project is sponsored by Danish headphone maker AIAIAI. As such, AbEXP wants to replace ads with a fully additive A/V experience–to trade commercialism for art–but the type of art that might melt into the background of your day, turning advertisements into a very literal white noise.
AbEXP isn’t the first plug-in to rethink banner ads; one memorable project from 2017 known as Green Screen bloomed flowers atop advertisements. Two years later, banner ads continue to prompt a fascinating design direction: to not just delete the things in our lives that annoy us, but to beautify them.