Liberation Through Hearing

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Taking a cue from Thomas Edison’s off-the-cuff remarks about inventing a Spirit Telephone, Liberation through Hearing explores the telephone’s connection to the afterlife and other worlds, both as analogy and agent for mediumship. The piece operates within a contemporary space of liminality – the on-hold phone system, where an anonymous voice drifts in and out of the earpiece accompanied by an repetitive musical score.

For Telephone, Scott has made a live recording of the default on-hold music installed on 64 million Cisco phone systems worldwide. This sound track is a long-form ritualistic work in itself, with the music performed in real-time over a number of hours by the artist and musicians from ARCO.

Punctuating this composition, are spoken recitals of real and imagined texts, including Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘A History of Spiritualism’; ethnographic accounts of the use of telephones in shamanic cults; the autobiography of Thomas Watson – inventor of the telephone and regular at seances – as well as earlier accounts of the afterlife such as Dante’s ‘Purgatory’ and Emmanuel Swedenborg’s ‘Heaven and Hell’.

Credits
On-hold voice: Glyn Pritchard
Musicians: Dan Scott, Neil Luck, Chihiro Ono, Adam De La Coeur.
Music: Opus Number 1 by Tim Carleton & Darrick Deel
Recorded by Reuben Kane.
Mixed by Dan Scott

Bibliography
Alighieri, Dante, and Anthony M. Esolen. Purgatory. New York: Modern Library, 2003.
Barthes, Roland. A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments. New York: Hill and Wang, 1978.
Cocteau, Jean, and Jean Cocteau. The Human Voice. London: Vision, 1951.
Doyle, Arthur Conan. The History of Spiritualism. London: Psychic, 1989.
Edison, Thomas. Interview in The New York Times. New York, 1910.
Lattas, Andrew. Telephones, Cameras and Technology in West New Britain Cargo Cults: University of Sydney, 2000.
Payne, John. ‘The Telephone Harp’ in Carol and Cadence: New Poems 1902-1907. London: Villon Society, 1908.
Ronell, Avital. The Telephone Book: Technology–schizophrenia–electric Speech. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1989.
Swedenborg, Emanuel, and George F. Dole. Heaven and Hell. New York: Swedenborg Foundation, 1984.
Wallace, Alfred Russel. Miracles and Modern Spiritualism. New York: Arno, 1975.
Watson, Thomas Augustus. Exploring Life: The Autobiography of Thomas A. Watson. New York: D. Appleton, 1926.

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