Two months into the project, and it’s time to pretend that I’m giving a press conference, and I’ve been asked the following questions (which I’ll gladly answer for you down below [well, really and truly, I need to do this for myself to assess what's happened thus far, and to keep on top of the project]).
Ms. Foley, how does what you proposed to do during the residency, through your public art project Locally Toned, compare to the experience you’ve had actually working on the project these past two months?
When I wrote the proposal, my goal was to work with 25 individuals and capture 25 ringtones in each of the “production” months (May and June). I had absolutely no idea that I would encounter people who had numerous tones or ideas for ringtones. Nor did I realize that I’d encounter environments (such as Patusan Farm) so rich with audio possibilities, that I’d be drawn to capture much more than I’d set out to.
This month I posted 21 new ringtones (though I received many more). I worked with 10 people whom I ended up profiling on the site (12 if you count the first “Missed Oppor-TONE-ity“). Other ringtone contributors are waiting in the wings. What I didn’t account for in the proposal was a good estimate of the time it would take to talk with people about the project, to encourage ringtone “idea” submissions from the public, to blog, to negotiate exhibition opportunities, and to work on the website and project design with my residency hosts deeplocal and Encyclopedia Destructica. I imagined that April was the month to get the word out (do pre-production) and that May and June would be all field recording/production. There was so much more I needed to do to garner public interest and participation in the project. A major thing I’ve learned is that I’m spending 50% of my time on promotional/outreach and project “build out” tasks.
Anything else you didn’t forsee?
Yes–two things. Firstly,”out of the blue” people who’ve heard about the project don’t seem to feel interested in or comfortable with approaching me (a stranger) to make ringtones. That has surprised me. Secondly, in my proposal, I didn’t even mentioned the idea of blogging.
So what do you think is up with the participation issue?
Could be that I’m not doing a good job of getting out the call for participation out to the public. I’ll work on that in June. It could be that folks have to see what I’m up to before they decide they want to work with me. As far as I know, I’ve had three or four “out of the blue” people contact me about making ringtones. One came through a posting for an Encyclopedia Destructica event, one came from a Town Talk/Radio Information Service listener, and the other two folks–I need to ask them how they heard about the project. As a media literacy consultant and as a person with an interest in developmental psychology, I suspicion that “mirroring” the ringtone making process is important. That’s one of the reasons I knew I had to blog. The blog gives me a means to show and talk about the process, the people I’m meeting, the way the project gets the tones.
And the blog? You didn’t conceptualize that component in your proposal?
No. That came about, I’m sure, because of the work I did with artist Ines Salpico within the artist residency program at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (ACA) in February and March of this year. I submitted my proposal to deeplocal‘s corporate residency program on Feb. 15th, and I left for ACA on the 16th. Ines and I needed to find a way to document the manner in which we “performed text” and messages through our work at the residency, and we realized pretty quickly that a blog was the way to do it. The day after I got back from ACA, I found out I was selected as an artist for the Old and New Media Residency program. I knew that I had to have a means to thank those who collaborated with me and to keep them and other interested parties “posted” on what I was finding and doing and thinking about as the web infrastructure and tone distribution methods were being conceptualized in concert with deeplocal. The blog was a no-brainer. People can listen to the tones–and some savvy folks I know have downloaded them. Others will have to wait (til the site and MMS system is ready, a bit later this summer, to get the tones).
How about project research? Aside from reading America Calling, what else have you been looking into?
I wish I had more time for research–right now I’m reading Lawrence Lessig‘s fabulously enlightening (and I think important) book Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. Funny cause I’m pals with Mark Hosler of Negativland, and this morning I was thinking I should ask Mark if he’ll contribute a tone to Locally Toned. Lessig interviewed Hosler for the Remix (not surprising if you know about Negativland’s book Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2). Anyhow, I did what Lessig has to say and share about Read Only (RO) and Read Write (RW) cultures. This is important in relation to my project and important to me as a media literacy specialist. I’m a firm believer in encouraging more public and active participation in the making of media. Lessig notes (as others do) that up until now, motion pictures have been for most people, RO culture. Now that folks have access to the means and tools to make and share media content, it’s turning into RW culture. Very interesting… I have a good deal more to read–just started it this morning.
I also read and got a good deal out of The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging. If you go to google and type in “locally toned,” my blog comes up first. I learned how to make that happen there!
Okay–this is going on and on–we’d better wrap things up now. Any last words?
Yes. I’m excited about some of the tones that will be coming into the project in June–Emmai Alaquiva of Ya Momz House in East Liberty says he has some tones coming my way, and Kennywood has granted permission for me to go out and record audio with another project participant. I’m beginning to work on a plan to get out and get interest in the project while riding public transport in Pittsburgh, and I’m part of a show at the Pittsburgh Technology Council‘s 15 Minutes Gallery on June 18th, and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust‘s Gallery Crawl on the weekend of July 17th. In other news, I also had some ladies’ undies and t-shirts for men and women screen printed. Get yer ladies’ undies! Get yer t-shirts!