Tag Archives: Caleb Foss

Photo Documentation of Locally Toned TV

A photo montage by Anna Lee Fields. Below are selected photos she took during the recording of Locally Toned TV at the Waffle Shop, July 9, 2010.

From the outside in (color).

From the outside in (with calendar), black and white.

Donnell Pearl as the cool *cat* who interviewed me.

Lenka Clayton, artist and temporary Waffle Shop staff member, works the controls.

Setting up a shot.

Gettin’ ready for the show (long shot).

Encyclopedia Destructica (Christopher Kardambikis and Jasdeep Khaira), one of Locally Toned’s Old and New Media Residency co-hosts. They were my first guests. We visited about their creative contributions to Locally Toned.

Justin Hopper, this year’s Old and New Media Resident Artist, was up next on the show. He talked about his project, Public Record, and brought his goldfish on the show–wanted me to get a tone from the little dude. That didn’t happen…

Artist Ayanah Moor, ringtone contributor and informal project adviser came on the show to perform a new ringtone.

Video and filmmaker (and ringtone contributor) Caleb Foss ran camera for Locally Toned TV.

Video artist and musician Keith Tassick performed his famously subtle *Ring*tone live!

Dave English took time away from his television show to be a guest on Locally Toned TV, too.

Spontaneous ringtone contributor Ricardo Iamuuri plays the hand harmonica (a harmonica made from only his hands).

Another spontaneous ringtone contributor–Christine “Scout” Smith played a lovely tune on her concertina.

Contributor Scott Davidoff (a.k.a. Edith Leadbottom).

Turadg Aleahmad, accompanist on the Mayan Horn, and Ms. Edith Leadbottom rehearse the ringtone, “You Are the One for Me.”

As the show is winding down…

Thanks to Anna Lee Fields for the lovely photos, and to the Waffle Shop, all the guests and audience members.

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Locally Toned TV Ringtones (Recorded Live at the Waffle Shop)

This is what I saw, looking from the stage at the audience and video crew last Friday night, July 9, 2010 while we recorded the Locally Toned TV show at the Waffle Shop.

Although getting the show “up and streaming” was rather tricky (due to some behind-the-scenes technical difficulties), the evening was delightfully magical. I promise to tell you more about the creative alchemy in future posts about the event, and you’ll also get to see photographs taken by Anna Lee-Fields, and video footage recorded by Carl Cimini and Caleb Foss.

A big part of the good karma that evening came from the audience–Locally Toned picked up three brand new “on the spot” ringtones from folks who dropped in to see the live show. How wonderful it was to open up the stage (and streaming webcast) to those simply moved in the moment to perform!

Since these tones were recorded “on the fly,” I didn’t have time to formally interview these contributors, but I was able to shoot photographs from my position in the HO(s)T seat. Here’s the short and sweet series I’m calling the Waffle Shop/Locally Toned TV Ringtones.

The first volunteer was local singer, songwriter and videographer, Ricardo Iamuuri. Here’s his beautiful Hand Harmonica Ringtone.

Next up was Christine “Scout” Smith–a “social worker, and fledgling [and brave, in my opinion!] concertina player.” This is her Fledgling Concertina Tone.

Our final ringtone contributor was Josephine Landback, a student and, if I read her handwriting correctly, also a cleaner in Pittsburgh. Josie performed a nice little Mouth Horn Ringtone for us. You’ll hear Waffle Shop ambience (the sound of clinking plates) in the background.

Thanks to Ricardo, Christine and Josephine for your inspired contributions to the project!


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Performing Tones in Valencia, Spain at Forja ArteContemporáneo

No puedo hablar mucho Espanol, but I can point out tones to play from my tone menu (the apron)!

No puedo hablar mucho Espanol, but I can point out tones to play for people from my tone menu (the apron)!

Last night was the opening of the Transfer Lounge show at Forja ArteContemporáneo in Valencia where I performed Pittsburgh ringtones. The event was well-attended even though a couple of torrential downpours fell throughout the evening. Since I speak very simple Spanish, I felt a little bit shy approaching gallery visitors as I would in Los Estados Unidos. I switched up my approach a bit–I  walked around the space, playing/amplifying tones and drew attention to the project sin palabras (without words). I then visited with folks en Espanol when they stopped by my table to pick up some of the art cards. One major advantage to come from the experience of performing ringtones in Spain is the opportoneity to think about using my body to perform the tones (rather than just rely upon my brain/ language-center). Wow, I thought this morning–Note to Self: traveling to other places can help to inform and expand an artist’s practice and approach.

The event was catered by Absolut (what a great promotional idea for Absolut, and a help to artists and artist-run organizations!). I wondered if this sort of sponsorship from the company is accessible to artists’ organizations back home.

Absolut Bartenders at the Forja Opening (photo by Carolina Loyola Garcia)

Absolut Bartenders at the Forja Opening (photo by Carolina Loyola Garcia)

Although I didn’t have time to look carefully at all the artists’ work included in the exhibition, I spent a good deal of time last night being riveted by pieces from Christina Ghetti, Filippos Tsitsopoulos and Ima Picó–I can’t wait for Pittsburgh to see their work. I’ll be writing more about Ima Pico as her help capturing and identifying Valencian tones was a tremendous contribution to the project.

Ghetti's Installation at Forja

Ghetti's Installation at Forja

Video work by Fillippo

Video work by Fillippo

Co-curator Pico Standing near Her Own Work

Co-curator Pico Standing near Her Own Work

Another highlight of the show para mi, was a visit from Consulor Agent Dr. David Nordlund from the United States Department of State in Valencia.


Foley, Nordlund y Loyola-Garcia

Carolina y yo were delighted to have a visit from Dr. Nordlund!  He took some pictures of the show but also took the time to visit with us (me, Carolina and Ima) about our work, Forja and the arts in general in Valencia. He even suggested that a return visit from Locally Toned might be an interesting idea (such as making Valencian tones during las Fallas?!). That would be fabulous! From what everybody tells me here about las Fallas (a week-long fiesta that runs in March of each year), that is certainly what Valencia sounds like.

Here are the photographic art cards from Pittsburgh that I took to the show. Hey, Caleb, HHOL, Peyton, horsies of Indiana, Erok, the Kennywood Merry-Go-Round, Bhante Maithrie, Coqui, and Stu, didja all know you came to Spain with me?

Photo 231

Photo 232

Photo 233

Photo 234

Photo 235

Because I don’t have tone distribution for mobile phone companies that operate in Spain, I came up with the clever idea (with Curator Loyola-Garcia’s help) of pasting [shortened] mp3 URLs on the backs of the cards so folks could easily access the audio files to download the tones to their European phones.


These last photos are documentation of performative moments taken by Ima’s friend Sonia (and Valencian ringtone contributor). Thanks for including my work in the show, Carolina, and thanks Ima and to Forja’s Toni Calderón for their help and hospitality!

carolina y yo



Sometimes a ringtone sounds so good, you have to close your eyes and listen.


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David Pohl’s Nostalgia Tones


Okay.  Hands down, David Pohl‘s house was the most fun place to go to (out of all the indoor sites I visited to procure ringtones for this project).  After being there for about half an hour, I asked him if he had nieces or nephews.  Why?  Because if I were still a kid, I would love going to Uncle David’s house.  Not only did he have several toys from the mid-60s to early 70s (my infant/toddler era), which he played so we could make ringtones, but he also had a Victrola.  That beautiful machine made me stop dead in my tracks–for a second I thought that Ms. Billie Holiday was over yonder in the room with us because of the sound of the recording playing off of that antique device.  David also made us smoothies with fresh raspberries from his garden (and, when we took photos outside, let me eat some right off the berry bush).  Total sensory overload of the best sort.  And I’ve said nothing about all the cool art work and simple yet smart design all around his place.  OMG!  I just had to get that off my chest…

David Pohl is an illustrator and designer who lives up in the neighborhood of Spring Hill.  I’ve seen him around town for years, working with youth (like Caleb Foss, another ringtone contributor) at the Mattress Factory, and playing or performing music around town–he’s been friends with some of my friends, but I never really met him before.  David was interested in the project, and we emailed back and forth over the past couple of months, talking a bit about what his ringtone ideas might be.  Then one day an email appeared saying he was ready.  I knew of his work, trusted his judgement and went up that hill straight away.


Let’s start with the toys.  David said he wanted to record the audio from these Fisher Price wind ups.  They intrigued me because as soon as he began playing them, I had to ground myself–plant my feet on the floor firmly and listen.  These were Way-Back-In-Time Machine Toys.  Very viscerally nostalgic.  The audio hurled me back to pre-verbal land.  Before I could speak, I could turn these knobs and make these little toys play.  For me.  Wow.


I turned two of the audio recordings (from four of the toys) into tones.  The first (and most powerful of the lot, in my mind) I’m call the Pre-Verbal Back-in-Time Tone.  The second is David’s Fisher Price Concert Tone (featuring the melody of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star).


As for the Victrola (which I did not take a picture of), I decided that I’d make two alert signals out of bits from an old record he played for me.  I think both of these would be fab as email or picture message alert signals–they’re fantastically regal.  Picture tiny cartoon trumpeters stepping out of your phone to let you know some messages have arrived, and, voila, that’s what you got with these compact tones (one and two seconds respectively).  Here is the shorter Ta-Da (SMS) Alert Signal (perfect to set as an incoming text message alert).  The longer Regal (MMS) Alert Signal is what I’d recommend for picture, video or audio messages that arrive at your phone.


The final tone that David wanted to make was very “meta” clever and interesting in relation to the history of phones–he wanted me to record the sound of him dialing his parents’ ten-digit phone number on the old rotary phone in his kitchen.  Those of us (of a certain age) who are feeling nostalgic for family or friends can set this tone as an identifier for people we used to call on those older phones.  It’s a subtle but conceptually striking tone, the Rotary Dial Up Tone.  I like thinking about the sound of someone dialing a rotary phone as a ringtone–it’s a recording of the physical act of someone trying to reach you (whereas a ring just alerts you to that fact).

Thanks, David, for welcoming me into your home so I could archive these nostalgically thoughtful ringtones for Pittsburgh’s Locally Toned.



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Caleb’s Porch Tone


Caleb Foss is a young filmmaker who presently attends SUNY Purchase.  He is a former student of mine.  I worked with him while he was in high school, during the time I ran the media literacy program at Pittsburgh Filmmakers.  We  keep each other updated on our creative work, and when he returned home from college this summer, I invited him to make a tone for the project.


I drove out to Mt. Lebanon to get Caleb’s tone.  He asked me if I knew he played the accordion.  I didn’t, but I thought it would make a great Pittsburgh tone.  When I arrived at his family’s front porch, a couple of other people were there–Caleb’s friend Tierney Baxendell and his neighbor, Andrew Wleklinski.


Caleb said, “I thought about what wouldn’t be an irritating ringtone, and my answer to that is the accordion and the clarinet.  Both are full and easygoing instruments.  By easygoing, I mean that there’s a softness to the sounds made by these instruments.  I suppose I’ve romanticized accordionists–I think of them playing on streets and in open spaces–I think it’s a good choice if a ringtone’s heard in a public space.  I work in a coffeehouse and sometimes it’s annoying when ringtones go off.  Heck, if someone’s ringtone was an accordion, I’d probably go propose to them!”


Caleb got his Warren off of Ebay.  He invited his neighbor over to play with him on his neighbortone (nice word, Caleb!).  Andrew Wleklinski used to play clairnet semi-professionally in Texas.  As Caleb said, “Andrew’s sound just wafts out the windows here on this street–it’s a very musical street.”  When I recorded this porch tone, it was the first time that Caleb and Andrew played together.


Here’s Caleb’s Porch Tone.  Set this on your phone when you have a hankerin’ to hear something sweet, neighborly and kinda romantic.  Not quite as gruff in style as Tom Waits might compose, but certainly as wonderfully soulful.  Thanks Caleb and Andrew for this first neighbortone.


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