"Mr. Pallas, What is going on here?"
An inspector for Michigan Bell Telephone Company in the course of investigating
why his trunk lines were overwhelmed with traffic.
When the PhoneyVents became so popular
that the task of delivering them was burdensome, the notion of putting
the material on a machine and letting anyone who wanted it call and get
it themselves became attractive.
This changed the nature of the events. The element of suprise and intrusion
was lost. But it afforded the opportunity to invite other artists to create
material for this exciting new medium!
For the DialeVents, I solicited tapes from artists around the country
who I knew who were open to new ideas and willing to experiment. I challenged
them to make art for the telephone. Their audio creations must be under
three minutes duration and attributed to them. Whatever they gave me would
be put on the commercial single line messaging machine bought with financial
support from Gil and Lila Silverman. The event changed every two weeks
and a schedule of upcoming artists and titles was printed in the Diane
Spodarek's Detroit Artists Monthly, a
widely read local publication at the time. A complete
list of artists and their works is here.
10,000 calls in a two week period was common. It was popular enough
that, on one occasion the volume of calls shut down three exchanges on
the east side of Detroit. The telephone company had mixed feelings: there
was a large volume of long distance calls! In the year that it ran, over
130,000 calls came in.
This was in 1978, well before the phone company invented "900" numbers
so there was no way to charge callers. Consequently none of us made any
money. Not that anyone was supposed to make money: We did it to ask the
question " Can tfile:///C:/www-jpallas-com/phone/dialyvent-new.htmlhe telephone be a medium for art?".
Listening to the selections below in 1998 thru computer speakers or
headphones is not the same as dialing the number and hearing it in one
ear through the phone's handset in 1978.
So use your imagination.
Selected Original DialeVents from 1978 to 1979.
May 21, 1978. Jim Pallas. Spring sounds of mating frogs and red wing blackbirds
recorded in a Michigan swamp.
"Embedded Michigan Noise."
July 2, 1978. Diane
Spodarek. Noted performance artist, Dangerous Diane, produced this
evocative essay regarding a late night interview with a visiting artist,
possibly Vito Acconci.
July 16, 1978. Lynn Farnsworth - describes a spiral in Detroit
Casky - Morse code message co-ordinated with a newspaper ad and a
library book, leading to a round trip ticket to lunch in New York city.
Morse Code 3 min
July 30, 1978. Larry Pike. A symmetrical composition composed of
variations of the words "Now is the time for all good men to come to the
aid of their party" produced by Jim Minx on his Votrax Human Voice Synthesizer.
"Seven in the Mirror."
August 13, 1978. Bill Graham. A stand-still journey through the time-shaped
terrain of Michigan.
September 14, 1978. Jay Yager.
An existential meditation on the prerecorded phone message as art.
"Office Fetish", Arman,
Collection of Detroit Institute of Arts.
March 18, 1979. Ken Friedman.
This Fluxus artist managed to make one machine do the work of many by stringing
several short messages on one tape but rigging it so that successive callers
each got only one in sequence. Many of the messages are reworked "events"
composed years earlier.
"Scrub Piece" ,16
"Zen Vaudeville" ,
"Christmas Tree Event" ,
"Performance Over" ,
"Mandatory Happening" ,
"Applaud a Stranger" ,
April 15, 1979. Dana Atchley. This
"on-the-road" media artist renders a collection of citizens' band radio
nicknames into a cross section of the American landscape.
Copyrights to all of the works linked above belong to the artists who
created them. All rights reserved. 1998.