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August 08, 2004

Never say No



"There is No telephone Art," Gregory Battock proclaimed in New Artists Video, A Critical Anthology in 1978. But:
Have you ever heard of "phoneyvents"? Jim Pallas began work on them in 1973. They were originally audio works played to recipients in a telephone number book. Based on the idea that a "telephone bell elicits a state of focused attention in most Americans," and that most are ready for communication "whose content could be anything," Pallas' work invoked surprise and a sense of intrusion in those answering his calls.

"The Phoneyvent," he writes, "would be cued up on an audio cassette tape player. The player was patched into the phone line. DC voltage isolation was obtained by using a 50 mfd capacitor in series. I dialed the recipient's number and when they answered, I played the event while listening in."

Pallas went on, in 1978, to develop the less intrusive "dialevent," which consisted of a number you could call to get a "phoneyvent" played over an automatic telephone answering machine.

Phoneyvents became so popular after an article in the Detroit Free Press, that the Bell Telephone Company sent out an inspector to investigate why the trunk lines were overwhelmed with traffic. You can listen to a selection of original 1978-79 events at http://www.jpallas.com/phone/dialyvent.html

Posted by newradio at August 8, 2004 12:10 PM