answering machine

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‘answering machine’

a project for

Experimentica 14: co-existence has never been easy

Chapter Arts, Cardiff, 7th November 2014

Our words are not only our own, in some way they are always already others’, always already used. We are subject to controls or forces outside or beyond ourselves, and we function in language that both is and is not ours. ‘answering machine’ places the performer at the mercy of the audience or participants, as they determine what he says.

For ‘answering machine’ the participants will be invited to text a question, instruction, or statement to the performer. Using an online search engine and text-to-speech software this audience input is converted to an audio stream. It is delivered to the performer via headphones and he speaks as much of the material as he can. New input displaces the question being responded to. A conversation develops as participants respond to what earlier queries have generated.

Struggling to answer, the performer is a mix of oracle and puppet. Operated by the participants who contribute their offerings, a response or reaction is generated in him. His stammers and sputters elicit further prompts from the listeners as he is turned into an automated speaker.

A website was created for the event: markleahy.net/answeringmachine

The performance uses software developed by Neil Rose

It was commissioned by Experimentica 14