Phone Land

This project was a collaboration with Steve Aquilano, who was able to do amazing things with cron jobs and Asterisk.

The concept was a system where a caller, when placing a call, would end up in the space of “Phone Land”.  Instead of hearing ringing on the other end, they are taken on a sonic journey to their destination.  They can hear the other people passing through phone land as they make their calls, and could have serendipitous encounters / conversations while waiting as they may in a physical waiting space.   Suddenly when the person on the other line answers, the caller is removed from phone land and can begin their call.

Where do we exist when we are on the phone if we are not fully present in either our physical or virtual locations? Inspired by studies in the psychological affects of telecommunication, we presented an alternate “physicality”, where certain elements of real life were recreated in abstract space.

Our conceptual proposal is to have this initiated whenever the user places a phone call. However because AT&T and Verizon did not let us reprogram their services, we created a number to call to be connected to the service. Once inside, the user can call whoever they want, but instead of hearing  the usual rings and tones, are taken through a simulated journey to their destination. Some people end up in unexpected places, where audio clues hint at a real location. The most important element is the presence of other callers. At any of these locations you can hear and talk to people making calls to others, and similarly waiting for an answer. You can talk to them and ask them where they are and who they are calling. If this was a virtual waiting room, for example set up by a company to put people when they are on hold, perhaps you could network.  When your call is answered, you are suddenly jerked out  of this space by the voice of the person you called. There is never a ring tone, just the experience of spacial travel..