Tag Archives: Terri C. Smith

Housatonic Museum of Art: Community Recording Session

The Locally Toned slogan I came up with a couple of years ago, YOU SHOULD BE A RINGTONE, pretty much sums up the Bridgeport, CT community recording session at the Housatonic Museum of Art. That’s because the people who came out for it really let their talents and personalities “ring” true (and through) in their tones!

Yotisse Williams walked into the session with the smallest (blue) guitar I’d ever seen–a Washburn Rover (he later told me). Williams shared an original musical composition and vocals–here’s his  Y Tone. He also allowed me to document the performance of his ringtone with video:

Garrick Moss told me he’d been playing piano since he was 7 years old. This is his gentle-sounding Moss Melody Ringtone.

Our next contributor was Lamont Mack from Stratford, CT. His improvised several vocalise “takes” for his a cappella contribution to the project, RJ’s Scit Scat Tone.

Photographer Andreas Kornfeld sent in his humorous and computer-generated Ex-Wife Alert via email. I added a tiny clip to the end of his track from audio that contributor Thiago Hersan sent into the project last year.

Officer Darrin Johnson “Munchkins,” on the security staff at the Housatonic Community College, stopped by during his break to record his seriously silly Officer Munchkins Ringtone. Johnson told me he enjoys sharing his sense of humor with people. He asked if I could add a siren sound effect to his tone (I did).

Paul Clabby, an artist, curator and (you guessed it!) tennis player, showed up with a racquet and ball to make this Tennis Anyone? Ringtone. Clabby told me he has a friend who calls a bit too often requesting to play tennis, and so he wanted to create an alert to specifically identify calls from that person. Clabby hopes others will also find his tennis tone useful, too. Check out this video, recorded by IT’S FOR YOU curator, Terri C Smith, of Clabby playing tennis while I record audio:

Nine year old Evan Rose also showed up to the recording session with his own sporting equipment to make this Click Clack Pool Table Tone. He and his father rescued the mini-table from a landfill (when a neighbor set it out on the curb one night as trash).

And just when I was wondering where all the lady-Bridgeport contributors were, we had a walk-in from Ms. Kendra Addison. She appeared during the last few minutes of our session to contribute her delightfully obnoxious LaLaLa Tone.

BTW, Bill Finch–the Mayor of Bridgeport–reportedly walked by the college during our recording session. Curator Terri C Smith saw him and invited him to make a tone. Since he was pressed for time, he couldn’t join us. Smith asked him what sound he’d choose for a Bridgeport tone, he replied, “The sound of a truck backing up!” I’ll see what I can do, Mayor Finch.

Thanks to the Housatonic Art Museum staff (curator Terri C Smith, director Robbin Zella and assistants Dominic and Nicholas Maloney) and to their supporters (!), and to all the community members and students who contributed tones to the project. Additional thanks to my brother, Don Foley, who gifted me the Flip camera so I could easily make video field recordings.


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Housatonic Museum of Art: Work with Students

T. Foley with student workshop particiapants at The Barnum Museum Entrance

Last week I was invited to the Housatonic Museum of Art in Bridgeport, CT, to give a talk about Locally Toned and to work with students and community members on a new series of tones. The museum is situated within the Housatonic Community College, and the museum’s curator, Terri C Smith, designed the group exhibition I was part of, IT’S FOR YOU: Conceptual and the Telephone, with students in mind.

Housatonic Museum of Art (gallery) – photo taken with cell phone

In the catalog, Smith writes, “The exhibition is, in part, a response to the wide-ranging use of phones in the hallways and other areas on campus. Each day students text, talk, surf the net, and listen to music on their phones. …With IT’S FOR YOU,” she continues, “the phone becomes a familiar point of entry that invites students to explore the often changing histories, processes and thinking that surround conceptual art practices.”

I opened the Tuesday evening talk with a mini- *Mobile* Ringtone Performance, fleshed out lots of details about Locally Toned, and closed with an invitation for students and community members to work with me on a Bridgeport tone series.


Sergio Escobar came with a spoken word tone in mind–here’s his Tone of Art. Since he’s an apprentice tattoo artist, he also brought in some inking equipment for this ear-catching Tattoo Tone.

Dominic Maloney, a talented percussionist, brought in his practice drum pad to make this Rhythmatic Alert.

He also worked with his brother Nicholas to make a playful squeaky floor tone at the nearby (P.T.) Barnum Museum.

Nicholas (left) and Dominic (right) Maloney stand in front of a photographic mural on the 3rd floor of the Barnum Museum.

About a block away from the College, The Barnum Museum was hard hit by a tornado last June, and it’s presently closed to the public. But since much of the building restoration hasn’t yet begun, Kathy Maher, the museum’s director (and curator), kindly allowed us entry to try and capture what sounds we could. Thanks to a museum staff suggestion, the Maloney brothers’ improv skills, and the recording expertise of another student-participant, we walked out with this Barnum Museum Squeaky Floor Tone.

Left to right: workshop participants with IT’S FOR YOU curator, Terri C Smith

After the student workshop concluded, an audio enthusiast (who later requested anonymity) sent me this lovely Indigo Children Ringtone. Working with a Sony hand recorder to capture sounds in and around Bridgeport, he’s been making music out of environmental audio ever since he had a good listen to the band The Books. For this ringtone, he mixed Ukulele tracks with the sound of children playing outside. He edits audio using the shareware program Audacity. The ringtone sounds like spring and/or summer–makes you want to take off your shoes and go play outside. The enthusiast and I agreed, via email, that an image of grass would make an appropriate icon for his tone.

My apologies to Nicholas Maloney for the one “Missed Oppor-TONE-ity” of the day. We recorded his ringtone as we were setting up for the community recording session on Thursday, and I set the levels too high. Since his audio file was distorted, I didn’t include it in the project. Thanks for the effort and energy, though, Nicholas!

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‘IT’S FOR YOU: Conceptual Art and the Telephone’ (Exhibition Catalog)

“It’s for You: Conceptual Art and the Telephone,” at the Housatonic Museum of Art in Bridgeport, CT, is curated by Terri C. Smith. The show includes work by artists such as Yoko Ono, the composer John Cage and the filmmaker Peter Greenaway (among many others). Click here to read the catalog.

Artist T. Foley is headed to Bridgeport next week where she’ll give a public talk about her project on Tuesday, March 22 at 5:00 p.m. and will hold an open recording session on Thursday, March 24, from 3:00-6:00. During the session people are invited to bring objects, ideas, and sound makers, then work with Foley to record their own ringtones. Both of these events are open to the public and will take place in Housatonic Community College’s Lafayette Hall. A Locally Toned display in the gallery is currently on view and features locallytoned.org and take-away ringtone art cards that have special codes allowing visitors to send Pittsburgh tones directly to their cell phones.

See this press release for more information about Foley’s visit.

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Locally Toned in “It’s for you,” Conceptual Art and the Telephone (Housatonic Museum of Art)

Locally Toned is thrilled to be a part of the upcoming show, “It’s for you,” Conceptual Art and the Telephone (curated by Terri C. Smith at the Housatonic Museum of Art in Bridgeport, CT). The show also features work by Yoko Ono, John Cage, Peter Greenaway and other contemporary artists of note, and runs from February 24 – March 25, 2011.

I’ll be traveling to Bridgeport in March to give a talk and to make a new series of tones with students and residents of that city.

From the museum’s curator:

“Inspired by the Housatonic Museum of Art’s (HMA) most immediate audience, our students at Housatonic Community College, the HMA has curated ‘It’s for you,’ Conceptual Art and the Telephone.  The exhibition is, in part, a response to the wide-ranging use of phones in the hallways and other areas on campus.  Each day students text, talk, surf the net, and listen to music on their phones.  With this exhibition, artworks that use the phone as an artistic medium or mediator are brought together in an original exhibition curated by Terri C. Smith.

The projects range from the late 1960s to today and include sound pieces, videos, and objects that resonate with the functions, technologies, and physicality of the telephone. Artists in the exhibition include: T. Foley, Lukas Geronimas, Jeremy LeClair, Christian Marclay, Yoko Ono, Rachel Perry Welty, Robert Peters, Pietro Pellini, and Hannah Wilke.

Many of the artists in ‘It’s for you’ aim to democratize the artist/audience relationship, a quality that is intricately woven into the history of conceptual art.  In ‘It’s for you’ Yoko Ono might call the gallery as part of her Telephone Piece, providing direct contact between artist and ‘viewer.’  Students will work with T Foley, creating their own ring tones as part of her Locally Toned project. Archival materials are also included as a way to represent ephemeral works from the past as with Robert Peters’ Naming Others: Manufacturing Yourself (1993) where the artist asked people to call an 800 number from pay phones and choose which stereotyping phrase described them best.

‘It’s for You’ harnesses the familiarity of the telephone as a way of introducing audiences to a variety of conceptual art practices, which often include a mix of art theory and social critique. The exhibition, consequently, endeavors to connect concerns found in contemporary art with the objects, communication habits, and changing technologies in our daily lives.  In that spirit, visitors and students will be encouraged to comment on the exhibition using telephone-friendly interfaces such as Twitter.”

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