A sound portrait in which artist Graeme Miller captures the poetry of the landline, following the arc of a single call from dialling to hanging up.
Artist Graeme Miller captures the poetry of the landline. In this half hour, we follow the arc of a single call from dialling to hanging up, taking in the sweep across the global landscape of the 20th century. He draws out the private habits and distinctive speech as well as the collective dreams and nightmares of the landlines art and culture.
While collaging the mores and cadences of telephone behaviour and speech the piece also lands in the physical space of the landline - the actual line and the real land. The world of the telephone engineer atop a telegraph pole; the village operator, the maintenance or laying of underwater cables, the middle-of-nowhere phonebox which exists oblique to the density of traffic of information and chat.
The plot lines of death and murder stalking the crossed lines of the city, to the call of the worried voice "Are you still there?". All these spaces are opened up with the reassurances and communities of landline use.
It is a line crossed next to the atmospheric space that denotes a fragility and hints at the ways in which the technology that opened up connection also imported in its liveness an equal and opposite force of disconnection.
Running out of change, the broken phone box, the drama and plunge into existential separation, opened up by the one-sided conversation and now, the relentless possibility of being in touch.
With thanks to Max Flemmich of Darvel Telephone Museum and Dr Sarah Jackson, Senior Lecturer English and Creative Writing, Nottingham Trent University.
A Cast Iron Radio Production.