LINDA DUVALL Visual and Media Artist

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933-CALL 2002

This interactive telephone project titled 933-CALL is a project that can be accessed from any telephone, and thus can exist in domestic spaces, places of work, and commercial venues.

This project consists of a telephone number and 50 Voice Mail boxes that I have rented. When someone calls the number, they are given a series of choices. Depending on which buttons they press, they will hear different versions of an event that is being discussed.

The source material for 933-CALL came from a 10 minute video, which was completed earlier this year. This video consists of 6 individuals all of whom have been affected by a decision made by one of the group 20 years earlier. As this person reveals her secret, each of the others begins to rethink crucial understandings about their own lives. Beginning with a constructed domestic situation at the point of both revelation and crisis, this video addresses the topic of misattributed paternity and its resulting complications.

Up to this point, this video has been shown to 40 different people - friends, artists, professionals in specialized areas of research, clergy from assorted denominations, and relatives. After each viewing, I taped the subsequent conversations, each of which lasted one hour. These conversations covered a wide range of topics, usually beginning with some kind of assessment of blame, or evaluation of the various participants in the video. Depending on the frame of reference of the various interviewees, the conversations extended into issues of shared morality, genetics, feminist approaches to decision-making, adoption and biology, the meaning of incest, and multiple references to public figures, books, etc.

I assembled a series of clips from these 40 hours of conversations, and organized them into categories on CDs for insertion into the telephone Voice Mail boxes. When one dials the number, a person will hear the familiar introduction - "So glad you called. You can now listen in, and add to any of the conversations. You will be given a series of prompts ". At each press of the button, the person will hear a fragment of a conversation, and then will be given choices about where to head: "If you want to hear more about Brian, press 3,. if you want to hear about his daughter, press 4, if you agree with his opinion on secrets, press 5, if you want to add your own opinion, press 7", etc. So each caller ends up with a different version of the narrative, based on which path one takes, what conclusions are assumed, how many times one circles around the 50 choices, etc.