What? says the lady.
Who can I call? And
what would I say?

Apparently art is about talking again. Not talking in the  sense where one person is c-o-m-m-u-n-i-c-a-t-i-n-g to another, but talking as our collective behaviour f.x. when we use our telephones. Messages and conversations can transmute the intended and become something else: both as semantic objects as well as sonic components the way we talk to eachother can come to life outside the context of our everyday interaction with telecommunications technology.

In November 2006 the Norwegian artist duo Habbestad&Larsson created a project called telart_automat - the last in a series of work all encompassing the social and technological field of telephones. The work is a three-legged project consisting of a series of modified phone booths, a sound installation and a telephone server providing contact with the telephone users of the city of Stavanger, located on the west coast of Norway.

During a period of two weeks people of Stavanger could engage with the phone booths and leave messages of a wide array of topics to be communicated to an anonymous audience of phone users in the Stavanger area. This slight transformation or pervertion of the phone system allowed the artists to create a large network of knowing and unknowing people - communicators, receivers, participators - all connected solely by the art world.  

As telarts phone system and the messages it was collecting grew during the period it was exhibited, a sound installation was slowly evolving at Tou Scene, one of Stavangers active arts houses. The collected messages found their way and place into a gallery space filled with old school analogue phones for people to eavesdrop. Here, a true sonic x-ray of the project was present, displaying not only the multitudes of messages mediated but also the vocal fingerprints of the people behind them.  Who to call and what to say are not the questions nor the answer. 

a project by Habbestad&Larsson

produced for ARTICLE2006 by Habbestad&Larsson in cooperation with i/o-lab
Supported by Arts Council Norway
  Interview at ARTICLE (Norwegian)
Review by kunstkritikk.no (Norwegian)