O telephone
8 channel interactive/intelligent sound installation
6 x 6 m
2007 / 2023
Don Ritter

Visitors within O telephone experience a contemplative and collaborative sound environment comprised of ringing telephones and recordings of voices speaking om. The installation recognizes various types of situations between the visitors and the phones, and responds with a corresponding multi-channel sound experience. Within the installation, six modified 1960’s telephones are arranged in a circle within a darkened room. Each telephone randomly rings with a distinctive sound, thereby inviting visitors to pick up its handset. If a viewer answers a ringing phone, a voice speaks om through the handset and through the speaker in that phone. The installation continually adjusts the multi-dimensional sound arrangement as viewers interact with the phones. When multiple telephones are answered concurrently, the resulting voices combine and travel repeatedly--panning--through the answered phones. The six telephones will eventually begin a random composition of panning voices if no ringing telephones are answered for an extended time, but stops when a viewer picks up a handset. The symbol om has represented various concepts since antiquity, including the sound of existence, the sound of the universe, and the sound that contains all other sounds.
2023 version

Exhibitions of O telephone
NAISA, South River, Canada. Sept 14-Dec 4, 2023
Hermes' Ear Festival. Brno House of Art, Czech Republic. 2009

Les Chants Mécaniques, Lille, France. 2007
Ballhaus Naunynstraße, Berlin, Germany. 2007

Reviews of O telephone
Cseres, Jozef (2008) Co ze se to dnes deje se zvuky v prostoru? His Voice, #2. Prague, Czech Rep.
Debatty, Régine (2007) "o telephone" Berlin, Germany
Cseres, Jozef (2006) "Don Ritter" Hermes’ Ear. Nové Zámky: Kassák Centre for Intermedia Creativity. Slovakia.