The phone box is born and babbling

Not in the way I hope it will eventually but in a way that I find  immensely satisfying. Probably at least two months behind schedule but that couldn’t  be helped. By now my intention was to be back at work teaching and dreaming of ways in which my students projects could in some way relate back to its magnificent isolation and ruddiness. Oh what opportunities they have missed! Actually that’s not true. As it has always been conceived as a symbol of me- ness I should not fall into the trap of sharing and risk tainting the project with otherness. I have found this discipline rather difficult. To turn off the desire to be successful, to have your work admired, to be loved professionally is something that has been lodged in my guts since I started in theatre,  leaving it out as an ultimate  goal has felt weird.

Every person who has strolled by the box (all very approving btw, ahh nostalgia and iconic, modernist design)  and has got beyond complete bemusement as to its intended use, has asked, not necessarily in so many words, “will it be interactive” – meaning “will I be able to play with it like a computer game, will I be in charge? Will there be a screen?” To which I answer “no”, partly to avoid the inevitable disappointment when they try it and it fails to live up to Disneyland or GTA or even making a sand-castle and mainly because IT IS NOT, or rather no more so than a classical opera audience might interact with a performance — sit, in this case, stand and listen, or not, and stare out the window, or not, but don’t expect to have any < I mean any effect on the performance at all. HA! I suppose that’s not entirely true either as the box has a very simple means of knowing you are there, namely you have answered the phone or picked it up expecting to make a call.  – Now I realise I need not have bothered with that either, after all it’s still a performance even if there is no audience. On the other hand if I have a story to tell I do need to be able to start at the beginning not to be encountered mid flow by someone sheltering from the rain or taking a piss. Still – HURRAHHHHH! I am so sick of interaction. The presumption of audiences (users) that they matter! What interests me, a little, is the degree to which they are bound to think that in some way or other they are having an effect, after all just as with any other telephone they can choose to talk back. It’s just when they do, the only person listening will be themselves. All phones have a circuit that ensures you hear your own voice through the earpiece, I have forgotten what it’s called but Roger will know. Without it you feel semi detached. Another way of looking at is as the antithesis to the IPhone – a phone you can’t carry, you cannot make a call from, interact with and unlike Siri it doesn’t listen to you or know where the nearest Pizza Express is.

Below you will find in no order, the front, the inside, the incomplete telephone, the incomplete electrical connections, the box at night, and the dedication to my aunt who financed the lot. The fairly scary image was a snapshot I took – single take, of my ‘voice.’  I have yet to complete all the connectivity although the bare bones have been tested and work, the composition itself isn’t started although the words are, the grass needs to be repaired, Maria has plants to plant and I have some not terribly taxing programming of the various sensors and the audio system. The physical electrical tasks have meant a lot of soldering and worrying about electrocution. The box has both heating and cooling to try to keep the components from packing up in mid winter. Needless to say I do have to keep an eye on leaks, as electrocuting patrons would be be uncool.

It will speak on Christmas Eve.









2 Responses

  1. Chris Newell September 21, 2015 / 9:40 am

    Sidetone, that’s it. Great to connect with you, I note each time you follow my tweets, how loyal! It will do nothing until Christmas Eve. If I could figure what the equivalent of aTV test card is for telephone I would certainly set it up. When I say the programming ahead is easy, I mean it would be for you or Alistair – for me programming with things that rely on copper wires and terminals, switches and relays is always the most ghastly random mess of trial and error. Simple things like anticipating the weird things that users insist on doing even with a welcome mat, a red box, a door, a light, and a phone handset, confounds me. Why can’t they do things in the order I want them to do things ! I do hope you and your family are well and happy. You know everything about me let me know about you when you have a long flight.

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