A short version of The Making of Telemegaphone Dale.
The story of the Telemegaphone started already in the summer of 2007. I (Erik) was residing at the Nordic Artists’ Center in Dale, working on Pophorns and developing ideas for a new square in Dale. Unsworn was at the time discussing a series of concepts for poetic and unexpected phone services, then called Parafunctional Payphones, of with the Telemegaphone was the most interesting one. The village of Dale with its paradoxical mix of welcoming stunning scenery and geographically isolated location, yet internationally connected and with a welcoming atmosphere, seemed like the perfect location to install the first Telemegaphone.
We were also curious as to how our ideals of open, non-anxious action spaces - explored in projects such as the Four Ophones – would fare when. Does this kind of shared responsibility work also at a distance? Do you care about the people you have never met in a village you have never been to?
The physical design of the Telemegaphone progressed from the typical alert-horns of warning and war towards a tasteful blend of public service, art-deco communications and reliable bourgeoisie. The Telemegaphone – featuring hexagonal, stainless steel horns with decoratively curved support legs – should look like a forgotten invention from the dawn of telephony, a confident product whose raison d’être is no longer questioned.
There are no power outlets on top of Norwegian fjells so we had to come up with an alternative energy solution for this Telemegaphone. We disqualified solar power early on as this is one the rainiest regions in Europe. (Feel the rain in Pete Beste’s excellent Black Metal shot in and around Dale.) A small 400W wind generator seemed like the perfect solution for a stormy mountaintop.
Pick up the phone
We’re extremely happy to have recruited Nicklas Marelius to join the team as Chief of Technical Wizardry. With a talent for getting-things-done Nicklas deviously managed to exposed the hidden serial port communications of modern Sony Ericsson USB-phones - a feat eagerly awaited by many. Now we can control the phone using a combination of the trusty Arduino microcontroller and a magic USB host chip. Nicklas even supplied the Telemegaphone with SMS remote control and reporting capabilities!
Off to Norway
Where we are now, we have already learned a lot. Cardboard is still king; windmills are not toys (not even small ones); no two phones are the same. Now the hard parts begin: transporting the whole shebang up the mountain, and getting it to work. Still that’s nothing compared to the social and political issues connected to the Telemegaphone. Til topps!