" 'THERE IS NO TELEPHONE ART'."
(quote from Gregory Battock in New Artists Video)
In 1973, Jim Pallas began working with the idea of 'Phoney vents.' Originally
vents were audio works that were played to whomever Pallas chose to
call, and they were, as he explained, ". . grounded in the premise that
the ringing of a telephone bell elicits a state of focused attention in
most Americans. The called person is ready for a communication whose content
may be anything. The person has no reasonable expectations; the situation
is out of his control." From this idea came another, the 'dialevent',
which consisted of a 'number you can call to get a phoney vent. This idea
was more appealing to Pallas, in that the dialevents were less intrusive
in nature and were more convenient to both the artists who composed them
and the 'consumers(?)!'
Since that time, Pallas has ceased working with the original phoney vent idea, and has combined it's title with the idea of the dialevent to produce his current 'phoney vents' line, initiated last June. The line presents various audio works by area visual and media artists, poets, and anyone else. with interesting sounds to make. The events are played over an automatic telephone answering machine, do not exceed 3 minutes in length, and are changed every two weeks (every other Saturday night). Pallas, in designing the program, even requested a number that would be easy to remember; 881-2345.(ed. note: This number is no longer valid) This line is accessible 24 hours a day, although it may, at peak demand times, require several attempts to get through.
Although the idea of utilizing the telephone system to present art is rich with possibilities, there are also problems inherent in the concept. For example, after a Detroit Free Press article on phoney vents last June, the line was so swamped with calls that other parties sharing the 881 exchange would sometimes have to wait several minutes for a dial tone. This situation prompted Bell Telephone to contact Pallas, and nearly meant the early demise of the program. Fortunately, the calls slowed down again to a more reasonable rate. As a safeguard against this type of thing happening again, Pallas is considering the installation of two more lines, so that three listeners can connect with the phoney vent simultaneously. This, done one way, would require the rental of two more answering machines (a costly endeavor) and done another way would mean that listeners would run a good chance of connecting somewhere in the middle of the event, rather than hearing it from start to finish. Another problem within the system is the quality of sound transmitted over the telephone: Because of both the amplifier in the answering machine and the speaker (receiver) through which the events are listened to, the ultimate product falls short of state-of-the-art reproduction. This condition has made a few of the events difficult to understand.
Otherwise, the phoney vent line has been a successful venture in the idea of bringing audio works to the mainstream, the general public. With calls coming in from across the country, as far as California, the line offers national exposure to the various submitting artists work, costing the artist only the price of a cassette and the time it takes to get the work done and delivered to Pallas. Certain events have received 482 calls in a day. 8,910 in a week's time.
Past featured artists have included David Barr. Lynn Farnsworth, Jay Yaeger, Bill Graham. Larry Pike, Diane Spodarek, Robert Casky, and Ivy Sky Rutzky.