The first week I arrived in Wellington NZ, I went to the art gallery where an exhibition all about ‘Eavesdropping’ was taking place. One of the exhibits featured the found voices from hundreds of answering machine tapes, discovered and archived by artist and researcher Dr Susan Schuppli. Sitting down in that vast gallery space, I was immediately transported to the front rooms and kitchens of Canada (by way of the accents!)
I decided to get in touch with Susan to see if she wanted to make a feature for the Hearsay Festival. After Susan was kind enough to give me access to her incredible archive of audio tapes, I spoke to her at her home in London, and began to weave these Canadian voices at my home in New Zealand!
With so many hours of tape, I wanted to challenge myself to create a piece that would offer a brief flicker of the immensity of the stories left behind in the tape machines thrown out into the charity shops of North America. I decided to use the ‘bleeps, bloops, bumps, whirrs and clicks’ of the tapes to create an ambient soundtrack to complement the piece.
I am in no way qualified to relay Susan’s research about the politics, ethics, and history of eavesdropping, so if you would like to read more about Susan’s work, please read her essay about the exhibit here.
Thank you again Susan for working with me on this project. It was such a pleasure and such a wonderful challenge to work this incredible archive of voices, stories and memories.
You can listen to the piece below: