Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Spoon River Extended

Now the Telephone Booth CD player is back in business.
Originally the Spoon River Project was going to close today, but since many people couldn't use the player for 10 days, I'll extend the run of Spoon River to Nov. 29th.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009


The CD player is gone! I'll replace it ASAP.
The Spoon River Project (volume 1) will be extended
through Nov. 21, 2009.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

AP story

Artist hopes to make connection with phone booth

By JAMES HANNAH Associated Press Writer

It has nearly vanished from the American landscape. Some teenagers have never even seen one before.

But the once ever-present telephone booth has popped up on a street corner in this southwest Ohio village as part of an unusual art project and a statement about private communications in the let-everybody-know-what-I'm-doing age of Twitter and MySpace.

The project is the brainchild of Tokyo-born artist Migiwa Orimo, who had to search high and low for a phone booth before finding one in the Windy City.

"It was really in bad condition," Orimo said. "The whole thing was black, pitted from Chicago weather on the street."

Orimo polished up the metal structure, replaced its broken panes of glass and installed a mustard-colored telephone with a black rotary dial.

But it's not a working phone booth. It's a living interactive sculpture that will serve as a stage for poetry readings, light shows and dance performances over the next year.

Beginning Saturday, people will be able to walk into the phone booth, pick up the receiver and listen to a recorded rendition of the Spoon River Anthology, a collection of short poems published in 1915 that describe the life of a fictional small town. Seventy actors and others with ties to Yellow Springs were recruited to read the poetry.

"I like the intimate performance space," said Rani Deighe Crowe, who came up with the poetry project. "You listen to this over the phone, which gives it that extra personal confessional quality."

Crowe said she rejects the notion of trying to reach the largest possible audience, opting instead for a performance that can only be delivered to one person at a time.

"I've been really interested in trying to reach the smallest possible audience," she said.

Orimo said she is trying to break the traditional boundary between the artist and audience, where people taking in the performance at the phone booth also become part of the art.

Orimo said the project is her reaction to Twitter, MySpace, surveillance cameras and other technologies designed to enable people to view and be viewed by others.

"Knowingly or unknowingly we do that every second of our lives nowadays," she said. "But it's all in a different kind of sphere _ a virtual sphere. I wanted to sort of bring that question once again to the physical level by letting people see this piece on the street corner, which is not going to move anywhere."

Kathy Thorne stopped to take a look at the phone booth earlier this week. She acknowledged that she is a bit overwhelmed by high-tech communication and yearns for the past.

"I wish I'd get letters from people from the mail instead of stupid e-mail," said Thorne, of Sarasota, Fla.

U.S. pay phones _ including telephone booths _ numbered 2.6 million at their height in 1998, according to AT&T. The decline in pay phone usage was in part due to the growth of other communications channels such as cell phones.

While the Yellow Springs phone booth had a nostalgic effect on people old enough to remember them, it was a mystery to young people who passed by. One teen didn't know how to open the folding door. Others commented that they remember rotary dials only from visiting their grandparents.

But Orimo has made a concession to the Twitter generation.

Inside the booth above the telephone is a digital clock/calendar. Orimo hopes that those who experience the phone booth art will record their thoughts on a log inside the booth. She plans to document what effect the phone booth has on the community over the next year.

"It redefines the notion of what an art space can be, while appropriating an everyday public facility as a place for intimate contemplation and even inspiration," said Anne Pasternak, director of Creative Time Inc., a New York City-based organization that commissions and presents public arts projects.

Other artists have used phone booths to make statements.

Last year, Dylan Mortimer installed phone booths in New York City, Jackson, Tenn., and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that were designed to resemble confessionals. Outfitted with flip-down kneelers, the booths were aimed at sparking dialogue about prayer.

The Yellow Springs phone booth sits on a downtown corner next to an ice cream shop and an array of wooden cafe tables. And even though it's only been on the street for a few weeks, the phone booth has already made a splash.

Someone put a helium balloon inside the booth. And a cardboard robot appeared there last week and then vanished as quickly as it came.

"People are already finding a relationship with it," Orimo said.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spoon River is Coming...

The Spoon River Project is a serialized audio adaptation of the 1915 literary classic featuring over 70 actors with ties to the Dayton and Yellow Springs area. The saga will be featured in 6 volumes. The first volume will be installed Saturday, October 24 and will be up for 3 weeks. The other 5 volumes will follow throughout the year.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Public Art: What Is Public? What Is Private?

In the age of Twitter, social networks, YouTube,

surveillance and text messaging,

we are constantly transmitting, receiving and exchanging

our status at great distance with speed.

We are readily conditioned to view, and be viewed by,

thousands of anonymous others.

We have several hundred “faces” of

so-called friends on our desktop.


This telephone booth

you are standing in

measures 32”x32”x80”.

It is designed for a single human body.

It is place-bound on a street corner.

It is not connected to

the Internet nor a phone-line.

What you experience here

is one-on-one.

Migiwa Orimo

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Poster/Two Deers Telephoning

This poster was inspired by Japanese advertising illustration from 1920's. It's hand painted. I'll make multiple prints for take-away cards.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Spoon River Project

Spoon River Project by Rani Crowe (Opens 10/24!)

As an artist/performer, I have been recently exploring several themes.

First, I have been thinking about infrastructure. How does one produce art and theater without the resources, funding, gallery space, studio space, performance space, audience base, and context? How does one authenticate and contextualize one’s art without these widely accepted backing principles? We widely praise artists who manage to breakthrough to new frameworks for their art, but we only accept them after they have persisted diligently in creating that framework until it redefines the space for us. As an artist, how do you create new ways of viewing and experiencing art without having that infrastructure that defines what you are doing as art?

Secondly, as new media forms have made self-marketing and documentation more possible, more art seems to be about marketing and documentation. More art seems to be more historical documentation than the actual moment of the experience of the art. As artists attempt to reach larger audiences, the connection of the individual to the piece as an intimate moment is disappearing. With new media, new ways of communicating are becoming the norm and older methods of communicating are becoming lost art forms. My own instinctual response to new media is to create pieces not for the masses but for the individual, and for the small audience. I have been exploring more personalized low tech means of communication such as gift giving, the postal service, the telephone, T-shirts, and even the canvas of my car as delivery systems for art and connection.

Thirdly, my background is primarily in theater. I have been writing, acting, directing, and designing shows for the stage. I have had a strong interest in performance and conceptual art for some time, and the more I do theater, the more I realize that my attitude and approach toward theater is as an artist wanting to create something new and meaningful, whereas many theater practitioners approach theater more as performers and entertainers. I have been looking for projects to integrate theater and art in new ways for myself.

As soon as Migiwa said she had a telephone booth, my mind started churning out ideas. It was the perfect device for exploring the questions I had been working with. I wanted to use the function of the booth as a performance venue. A theater for one. There is already a sense memory experience attached to listening to something on the phone. It connects us to loved ones far away, to services when we are in need, and to bad news. For those of us who still remember phones plugged into walls with cords, we remember the extra preciousness of our phone time when we had to stand next to the wall at full attention and count every minute that we would pay for. Especially in a booth where you had to insert coins as you talked.

I originally planned to write a series of monologues of individuals that you could call through the phone and hear their stories. I also thought about interviews of people within the town. As I contemplated what to write, I started thinking of the Spoon River Anthology. I ordered it from the library, thinking I would use it for inspiration and possibly a template. As I began reading, I realized that the monologues, written in 1910, still resonated. They described so many of the characters and their relationships of small town life. They were specific without being specific. I didn’t think I could top them or create anything more meaningful than this book. Sometimes simplifying a piece is the strongest decision you can make. The Spoon River Anthology is a classic, often used by acting teachers as monologues for beginning actors, but how often do you see it produced? And how many plays have you seen produced in a telephone booth? It provides the opportunity to involve many actors from across the Dayton area, and yet the performance space is designed for one person at a time. This provides the opportunity to use new recording technology in an intimate and low tech delivery system. These are the reasons I am drawn to this project.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

It's here!

I picked up a Telephone Booth in Chicago on Wednesday. Now it's sitting outside my studio door. Condition of the booth is not good. There are some badly damaged panels. It shows signs of serving many years on Chicago street.

The telephone signs (sand blasted red glass panels) are all in great condition!