Tag Archives: Ima Picó

15 New Ringtones from Valencia, Spain (Uploaded to locallytoned.org)!

Click on any of the pictures above to hear/send one of the tones from Valencia, Spain to your phone!

The tones were recorded when I traveled to Spain in September of 2009 as part of a show called Transfer Lounge (curated by Carolina Loyola Garcia, Toni Claderon and Ima Pico). While there, I did a *Mobile* Ringtone Performance at the Forja ArteContemporáneo opening, and collaborated with locals to make a small series of Valencian tones.

The tones feature the sounds of Spanish-speakers, crushing garlic with a mortar and pestle, birdsong, and little bells which are traditionally rung at processions for the town’s patron saint (Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados/Our Lady of the Forsaken or Homeless).

To read more about this series/my work in that city, type “Valencia” into the search box on this blog.

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Ima Picó’s East/West Berlin Telephone-Ring Tone

Ima Picó with her daughter Aitana

Ima Picó is a visual artist, curator and a ringtone contributor from last year (when Locally Toned visited Valencia, Spain). She also played a key role in planning and coordinating the S.Low Projekt in Berlin (and invited Locally Toned to be a part of the project). Although Ima attended the Open Ringtone Recording Session at N.K., she opted to invite me to her family’s Prenzlauer Berg flat to record their old army green Western Electric telephone.

This telephone came from the Mauerpark Flohmarkt (flea market at Mauerpark). It’s still in use, has a great-sounding bell and has an interesting and quite faded warning (sticker) on the reciever. As far as we could tell, the sticker cautioned users to be careful of what they said, noting that their conversations might be picked up and/or recorded. More about the sticker in a moment, but first–have a listen to Ima’s East/West Berlin Telephone-Ring Tone. The audio take was recorded in the apartment on a breezy summer eve. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear a tiny bit of street traffic and wind rustling the curtains in the window.

I had a bit of fun over the last few days, trying to decipher the exact text on the sticker. First, I tried Googling terms like “East Berlin Telephone,” “tapping Berlin phones,” and “warnings on Berlin phones,” but that didn’t get me very far.

I'm guessing this is an antique WW2 Siemens Type Tesla Bakelite telephone

Then, yesterday, during a visit to the wonderful Museum der Dinge (Museum of Things) I spotted this older phone with a prominent “CAUTION NOT SECURE” warning on it. When I searched that term this morning, it led to this printable sticker-sheet .pdf from the Federation of American Scientists website:

Voila–the words from this document matched the words (and their placement) on Ima’s phone! I’m assuming that the phone would have been in West Berlin (during the DDR/GDR era), since the warning came from the old U.S. allies. Digging a bit further, I discovered that the document from the FAS-site index came from the Defense Department (DoD) of the United States, Intelligence and Security (Doctrine, Directives and Instructions). The sticker is, officially, a TELEPHONE MONITORING NOTIFICATION DETAIL.

Thanks to Ima Picó for her fun-for-me to research contribution to the project! You can read an extensive Wikipedia quote below (from this article), if you’d like a little more background about telecommunications in post-WWII East/West Germany.

“The Post Office also ran the telephone network in Berlin. It was in a sorry state in all four sectors, because by July 1945, before the Western Allies took control of their sectors, the Soviets had dismantled and deported almost all automatic telephone switches, allowing direct dialling instead of operator connected calling. So Berlin’s telephone network dropped from hundreds of thousands of connected telephones to a mere 750 in use by end of 1945, all of which were assigned to Allied staff or utility services. Rebuilding the system became a lengthy enterprise because of the post-war economic crisis and the following Berlin Blockade. On 25 February 1946 calls between Berlin and any of the four Allied zones of occupation were again made possible. In April 1949 the Eastern branch of the Deutsche Post disconnected all 89 existing telephone lines from West Berlin into the Soviet Zone of occupation in Germany.

Meanwhile West Berlin was integrated into the West German telephone network, using the same international dialling code as West Germany, +49, with the area code 030. On 27 May 1952 the EasternDeutsche Post cut all 4,000 lines connecting East and West Berlin. In order to reduce Eastern tapping of telecommunications between West Berlin and West Germany microwave radio relay connections were built, which wirelessly transmitted telephone calls between antenna towers in West Germany and West Berlin, where two of which were built, one antenna in Berlin-Wannsee and later a second in Berlin-Frohnau, finished on 16 May 1980 with a height of 358 m (1,175 ft) (this tower was demolished on 8 February 2009).

Following the détente, on 31 January 1971 East Germany allowed the opening of 10 telephone lines between East and West Berlin. The Western area code for East Berlin was then 00372 (international access prefix 00, East German country code 37, area code 2). Calls from East Berlin were only possible with operator assistance. On 24 June 1972 East Germany opened 32 local exchanges (including Potsdam) in the East German suburbia of West Berlin for calls from West Berlin. From 14 April 1975 East Berliners could once again dial directly to West Berlin, without operator assistance. East Germany conceded to an increase in lines between East and West Berlin to 120 on 15 December 1981. However, private phones were very rare in the East. In 1989, the 17 million East Germans (including East Berliners) were served by only 4 million telephones, only half of which were installed in private homes, the rest being in offices, companies, public telephone kiosks, and the like.”

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Locally Toned’s Goin’ to Berlin This Summer! (Foley Receives Artist Opportunity Grant from GPAC)

Big News! Locally Toned will Travel to Berlin this summer thanks to an Artist Opportunity Grant from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.

The funding will help with my travel to and from Europe, where I’ll participate in S.LOW, a month-long, cross-disciplinary event organized by artist by Ima Picó. Yippee!

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Lucía’s Squeaky Hammer Toy Tone (Valencia, Spain)


Meet Lucía–a little girl from Valencia who contributed an awesome toy to the project. She’s very good at chess, likes playing the guitar and singing, and her favorite color is turquoise blue. Her mother is a photographer and friend of the artist and curator Ima Picó. I met Lucía at a dinner hosted by Ima and her friends–you may recall that Ima helped connect me to other Valencians who were up for making ringtones.

Here’s Lucía’s El juguete martillo (Hammer Toy) Tone.

Thanks, dear Lucía, for your contribution to the project!


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Maris en el autobus (Ladies on the Bus) Ringtone (Valencia, Spain)


Here’s the second Valencian shenanigans’ tone contribution from Ima and Sonia, a humorously conceptual tone. The idea is that the tone would be pretty funny if it went off in someone’s purse or bag while traveling in an autobus in Valencia.

This tone reminds me of some of Julie Mickens’ conceptual tones (definately created for situations where one’s riding on public transportation and his or her phone goes off). These tones by Julie, Ima and Sonia speak to the experience one has when public and private space collide or intersect (when cell phones are used in public). Another way to say it would be to talk about the experience of the (or too much) private intersecting within public space. I’m not being very articulate about this notion, but perhaps you get the idea…


If you want to get a good picture of what’s happening in this ridiculous tone, imagine a bus with dos marujas (two women) or a housewives on it. They are conventional women, likely out and about because they are shopping. “Mas cursi,” said Ima. I looked the word cursi up–it denotes false elegance/bad taste, etc. Ima continued, “They perhaps have wallpaper with flowers and many tacky things.” The imagined women in this tone refer to each other as Mari. Ima explained to me that in Valencia, little school girls often affectionately call each other “Mari” (shortened version of Marie or Maria).


I asked Ima to translate some phrases from the absurd dialogue for Locally Toned readers:

Are you here on the bus?

Listen, I am on the bus.

On the No. 9 bus.

Finca Roja–I’m by this place.

I am arriving.

Do you hear me?

Yes, I am on the bus.

I’m arriving.

Where are you now?

I am on the bus.

In order to make this tone, we first rehearsed and recorded the audio in my hotel room. Then we went scouting for a bus in the central area that had a brief stop-over so we could ask the bus driver for permission to get on the bus to take photos for the tone.



Though he was finished with his brief lay-over, we found a kind bus driver who let us on the bus for a couple of minutes while he made a loop in the central area. Here’s my fave photo from the mini dos marujas shoot.


Here’s the Maris en el Autobus Ringtone. Thanks for coming out to play in Valencia, Ima y Sonia! I love this tone!

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Firecrackers in the Street Tone (Tono de Los Petardos en la Calle) Valencia, Spain

Los Petardos

Los Petardos

You’ve met Ima and Sonia in the previous post. I was very lucky that Ima was able to talk her friend Sonia into a Los Petardos tone. We arranged to meet one morning and scout for the perfect location–a quiet and safe street closed to traffic where we could set the firecrackers off and not draw too much attention to ourselves in the process. As you will see and can hear, it worked perfectly. When we were ready to get to work, Ima took the camera, I broke out the reording equipment, and Sonia was the brave soldier–she lit the fireworks (they looked dangerous to me)!

Making the plan.

Making the plan.



Sonia lights the fireworks.



We recorded this tone in an alley way behind my hotel and a fancy restaurant. As the firecrackers were exploding, the back door to the restaurant opened up, and a manager-looking gentleman with additional staff popped out to see what the heck was happening. As soon as the firecracker sound subsided, he cleared his throat and said, in formal sounding Spanish, “Ladies, are we in danger here?” We were sure he was expecting to see little boys setting off the fireworks–he must have been really confused by our presence!

Here’s the excellent Tono Petardo (Firecracker Tone). Thanks for being brave, Sonia, and for this marvelous idea, Ima. I believe this tone is quintessentialy Valencian–so many of the people I met in the city told me that fireworks and firecrackers were a sound you heard often there–especially during festivals (like Las Fallas).

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Little Bells of Valencia, Spain (Campanillas de Valencia)

Ima Picó

Meet Ima Picó, a visual artist and digital muralist who was born and raised in Valencia, Spain but who’s now based in Manchester, UK. She also has two blogs–her own, and one called blackduck. Ima curated and coordinated the Spanish work in the Transfer Lounge show in Valencia (along with Toni Calderón). The day I met her, the US curator and I had headed over to the gallery space at Forja ArteContemporáneo to begin installing the show. The day after I met Ima, she brought this bell to Forja, and began to help connect me to other Valencians who would contribute ringtones to the project. I am so grateful to her for being a special Locally Toned ringtone agent in Valencia!

I was delighted when Ima told me she was ready to make a tone immediately. She produced this little bell, and explained that numerous people (especially little children) ring these bells the second Sunday every year for the veneration/festival of Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados (Our Lady of the Forsaken or Homeless). The Señora is the patron saint of Valencia, and as I read elsewhere, she was originally the patron saint of a 15th-century society dedicated to the care of the homeless and mentally ill in Valencia.

Here’s Ima’s Campanilla (Little Bell) Tone.


The next day I met Ima’s friend Sonia, who lives in Valencia and works as a costume supervisor for films and publicity shoots. She brought two beautiful antique campanillas with her to turn into ringtones.



This antique bell belonged to Sonia's abuela (grandmother).

This antique bell belonged to Sonia's abuela (grandmother).


Here ‘s Sonia’s Dama (Lady) Campanilla (Bell) Tone, and her Numero 3 Campanilla (Little Bell) Tone (if you look closely at the above picture, this bell is stamped with the no. 3).

Our Lady of the Basilica (La Senora de los Santos Inocentes Martires y Desamparados)

Patron Saint of Valencia venerated each May: Our Lady of the Basilica (La Senora de los Santos Inocentes Martires y Desamparados)

The Basilica from the Plaza

View of the Basilica from the Plaza de la Virgen

Thanks very much to Ima and Sonia for this gentle answer to the question, What does Valencia sound like? You’ll be reading more about them (and our ringtone-making shenanigans) in the next post!

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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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Locally Toned Travels to Valencia, Spain


I arrived in Valencia, Spain yesterday (Woo-Hoo!) where I’ll do a ringtone performance at the opening of the Transfer Lounge exhibition I’m part of at Forja ArteContemporáneo, Valencia, the 17th of September 2009 at 8pm. The show’s been curated by Pittsburgh’s Carolina Loyola Garcia, and the Spanish part of the project has been curated/coordinated by Toni Calderon and Ima Pico of Valencia.
The card I’m holding here has “YOU SHOULD BE A RINGTONE” on one side and the Locally Toned project description on another. I speak a little Spanish, but mostly *Mexican* Spanish and in the present tense, so I thought this little card might be useful when I’m approaching strangers and am hoping to capture Valencian tones.

I brought 10 Pittsburgh ringtones with me to Valencia (a brand new art card series!), and I’ll (hopefully) bring 10 Valencian ringtones back to Pittsburgh (where the show will run at SPACE Gallery from October 2nd-17th of November). I’ll be sure to post the new series of Pittsburgh cards later.

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