• Dial Tone Operator

Satz, Aura, 2014, Show, Exhibition or Event, Dial Tone Operator

Abstract or Description:

Dial Tone Operator is a sound installation offering a disorienting experience of the dial tone as spatialized binaural music, composed from vintage recordings of telephone sounds, interwoven with spoken word and song by vocalists Elaine Mitchener and Jennifer Walshe. Early telephone operators were women, "weavers of speech" who provided seductive efficient voices and cheap labour, plugging lines in and out of a circuit. Automatic dial systems were developed to replace them, reducing costs and ensuring the privacy of the interlocutors. The dial tone plays when the telephone is off-hook, indicating that the system is live and a telephone number can be dialled, a sustained signal of 'lines open', awaiting transmission and connectivity. The composition suggests an experience of tuning in and tuning out, amplifying the multitude of voices in the ether, the meaningful and meaningless messages in a state of constant transmission. Using the dial tone and electric hum as drone music, the piece stimulates the nervous system by providing a constant sound within which the mind can go back and forth (either due to acoustic illusions, binaural effects or shifts in tone). Listeners are invited to immerse themselves in the intimate telephonic headphone encounter at the end of the corridor, lose themselves in the subtleties of a sustained note, and hum along. In addition to vintage headphones the installation features an original switchboard operator mouthpiece, which would have originally served to amplify the operator's voice as a hornlike contraption resting on their sternum. As a telephonic relic, it suggests that a person might speak into it, or that the wall itself is an operator.
Composed and scripted by Aura Satz.

Publication: 'Mirrorcity' Newspaper, edited by Tom McCarthy.
Contributors included Chloe Aridjis, Stewart Home, Deborah Levy, and artists from the exhibition. Supplement includes an essay by chief curator Stephanie Rosenthal.

SingerMitchener, Elaine
SingerWalshe, Jennifer
MirrorcityLondon, UK14 Oct 2014 - 4 Jan 2015Mixed show
Official URL: http://mirrorcity.southbankcentre.co.uk/aura-satz....
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Funders: Hayward Gallery
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2016 15:40
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2019 15:26
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/2355
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