Our words are not only our own, in some way they are always already others’, always already used. We function in language that both is and is not ours. ‘answering machine’ places the performer as subject to the participants, as they determine what he says. Struggling to answer, the performer is a mix of oracle and puppet. Operated by the contributors, 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.

For ‘answering machine’ participants are 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.


thanks to Neil Rose for programming
thanks to Tim Dollimore of The Media Workshop for technical assistance
thanks to Rosanna Irvine for support with the run-through


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