Art Gallery of Hamilton, Canada, 2003
Audio installation comprised of 100s of messages left on discarded answering machines. These messages were played by through re-wired Contempra phones, the first Canadian-designed dial-in-handset telephone manufactured in 1968. For several years I collected discarded answering machine tapes from thrift stores and yard sales. I used these “found sounds” to develop the primary content for several installations and audio works.
In Pick Up! viewers had an opportunity to eavesdrops on hundreds of conversations by picking up one of the ten phones dispersed throughout the gallery spaces. This act of listening-in also involves a process of speculation as the viewer begin to develop an imaginary portrait of the subject of these phone calls. At the same time the viewer/listener also becomes a potential subject of the work given that most of recorded messages use the form of direct address. In picking up one of the telephones in the gallery the viewer automatically slips into the subject position of the intended receiver. . . “you’re not at home right now but. . . why haven’t you called me back. . . you don’t know what I’ve been going through. . . you can’t just ignore me. . .what are you doing later”.