Meda202: Phoney

My artwork this semester for Meda202 is more of a ‘gag-art’ piece than an conceptual art piece. I found it more entertaining and created more of a sense of ‘wonderment’. I wanted people to approach my artwork, interact with it, and be drawn towards it.

My artwork started out as a telephone, that would be connected to a phone-line, and when picked up, would automatically call a random number in the Wollongong area. After some research and some lengthy talks with Glenn, I found out that this idea would be slightly unethical, and slightly illegal. I then considered hooking up the phone directly to the University’s phone system, and it when picked up by the audience, it would automatically call a phone on the University’s system. After some further research, I found that this could result in some negative feedback from the University staff, which could follow me through my studies. Something I didn’t really want looming over my back. Not to mention it would also be highly unethical again.

So my solution to these problems, was to give the impression that when you picked up the phone, it would go to a famous person/characters voicemail! To complete this, I needed to find and download voicemails from celebrities and famous television/movies characters. It took me several hours to find a dozen or so examples for my prototype, and even then, some of the voicemails aren’t the best quality. For my final art piece, I’ll need to find at least 20 or more voicemails in higher quality, as well as some funny situations to put the audience in. After presenting my prototype to the class, they gave some positive feedback as to what kind of audio files I could include as my voicemails. Some people suggested some funny gags, or even pretending to answer the phone.

After gathering the digital side of my artwork, I needed to consider the physical side. I had to find a telephone. I searched for weeks throughout Vinnies and Salvo’s across Sydney and Wollongong. I had in mind a red retro type of telephone (pictured below), but after finding nothing, I searched online to see how much one would cost, and that totally blew me away. $100+ for an old telephone! Not worth it.

The original concept

The very next day, I searched another Salvo’s at Wollongong, and found a great replacement! It was an old children’s telephone that had stopped working. Two dollars later, and it was mine. I took it class, found a screwdriver, and decided to unscrew everything inside of it. Inside of the telephone, was an old circuit board, speakers, batteries and some more components I wouldn’t really need. I opened the red headset part of the telephone and found it hollow.


To complete my art piece, I’d need an Arduino with an audio component attached to it. I’d need to wire it up to a magnetic receiver that could detect when the headset component of the telephone was picked up. I’d also need to insert a speaker into the headset that could play the desired audio file.

In regards to programming the Arduino, I have a solid background in programming, having studied it outside of University, and at an accelerated level at High School, so while I’m confident with the pseudo-code, i’d need to brush up on whatever programming language the Arduino uses.

For this artwork, I didn’t have any inspiration from Artists, however I did get the concept of my piece from a Television show called Louie. In the television show, it depicts a red button in one corner of the art studio, and when pressed, it plays an audio file of someone saying something really offensive. I found this hilarious and captivating, and so I decided to try and making something similar.

So to conclude, off the feedback from the class, I’m expanding the content involved to make it more interesting and captivating. I also need to complete my programming of the Arduino, and prepare how I want to present the piece.


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