Telettrofono by Justin Bennett and Matthea Harvey
July 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, and Aug 4-5, 2012
Audio Preview from Telettrofono
Visitor Information | Artists | Family Day | Bike Tour
For stillspotting nyc: staten island, sound artist Justin Bennett and poet Matthea Harvey present Telettrofono, an audio walking tour that braids history with fantasy along and around the waterfront. Telettrofono will be offered in the St. George and New Brighton neighborhoods of Staten Island for four summer weekends: July 14–15, July 21–22, July 28–29, and August 4–5, 2012. Starting from a stillspotting nyc kiosk, located at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in St. George, visitors will take a soundwalk, guided by an approximately one and a half-hour recording.
Antonio Meucci, a Staten Island resident of Italian birth, was the unacknowledged inventor of the first telephone (or telettrofono), conceived in 1849, when he accidentally discovered, while administering electrical shocks to a man suffering from rheumatism, that sound could travel along electrical wires. Many of his inventions—a marine telephone, a lactometer, flame-retardant paint and smokeless candles—went far beyond the imagination of his contemporaries.
For Telettrofono, Bennett and Harvey meld ambient sounds from the borough with invented noises such as pianos of stone and glass, or a bone-xylophone, with a poetic script for an audio walking tour that weaves Meucci’s tragic true-to-life story together with fantastical elements. Bennett and Harvey envision Meucci’s wife, Esterre – a mermaid who leaves the water for land because of her love for the sounds above ground.
The walk in search of this storied couple meanders along the waterfront, past salt mounds and industrial sites, through historic residential neighborhoods and into places of discovery. The route is designed as a spiral to lead visitors out from the coast into the land, while the recorded story transports listeners out from the external urban environment into a state of introspection. Participants will listen to the narrative soundscape through an imagined present-day telettrofono, a phone that is “smart” in the sense that it can enable listening under and across the water, dialing into fairytale and fact, mermaid choruses, and real and invented patent applications. The telettrofono will guide the listener through changing perspectives on sound and place within the tale of the Meuccis from Florence and Havana, as well as the stories, sights, and silences distinct to Staten Island.
VISITOR INFORMATION, TICKETING, AND DIRECTIONS
A visit to Telettrofono consists of a self-guided soundwalk where participants will engage in a walking tour around Staten Island, guided by the pre-recorded sounds transmitted through borrowed iPods. Visitors begin at a stillspotting nyc kiosk located at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in St. George.
View a map of the ticket kiosk.
If visiting from the other boroughs, the nearest subway stops to the ferry terminal are the R at Whitehall Street, the 4/5 at Bowling Green, the 1 at South Ferry, or the J/Z at Broad Street. Take the Staten Island Ferry from the Whitehall Terminal at the southernmost tip of Manhattan, which departs every half hour to Staten Island.
Hours are Saturdays and Sundays, July 14–15, 21–22, 28–29, and August 4–5, from 12 pm–7 pm. Visitors will receive a map and iPods will be available in exchange for a photo ID until 5 pm. The recorded program is approximately one and a half hours long. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for members and will be available in mid-June by credit card only. Discounted rates are available for groups of ten or more. Advance registration is strongly suggested.
In conjunction with Telettrofono, the fourth edition of the stillspotting nyc program in Staten Island, families are welcome to attend a free event at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum on Saturday August 4th from 2-4 pm. This Family Day will include a museum tour focusing on Antonio Meucci, his life and work, a reading, art activities, and refreshments. The Garibaldi-Meucci Museum is located at 420 Tompkins Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10305. View a map
For stillspotting nyc: staten island, the Guggenheim Museum is in collaboration with NYC’s Department of Transportation on a city-wide initiative. Visitors wishing to travel by bicycle to stillspotting nyc may take advantage of an additional free self-guided cycling program that highlights issues of silence and noise around the neighborhoods of Randall Manor, New Brighton, St. George, Tompkinsville, Stapleton, Clifton, and Rosebank, and directs participants to places such as the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum and the Alice Austen House. Download the free bicycle tour map. Ride carefully.
The Guggenheim Museum gratefully acknowledges the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and their Urban Art Program for assistance, as well as DOT’s Pedestrian & Bicycle Group for help with mapping of the Telettrofono bike tour in Staten Island.
The Guggenheim also extends thanks to the following community collaborators:
- Asha Sandler
- Jocelyn Casey-Whitman
- Jeremy Gage
- Raviv Ganchrow
- Lauren Tripolitis
- Emily Schluter
- Stefano Gulizia
- Maeve McNamara
- Milena Mizgiert
- Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam
- New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
- New York City Department of Transportation, Ferry Division
- New York City Economic Development Corporation
- Atlantic Salt, Inc.
- St. George Theater Restoration, Inc.
- Garibaldi-Meucci Museum
- Jocelyn Casey-Whitman
Justin Bennett is an artist and composer working with sound and visual media. Bennett is best known for his work with field recordings, which he uses to create installations in public spaces, soundwalks, and live performances. Much of his work is concerned with urban space and the relationship of sound to place. In the last few years he worked with Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, the Centre Culturel Suisse in Paris, the Guangzhou Triennial, Istanbul Biennial, Soundtrackcity in Amsterdam, Barbara Seiler Galerie in Zürich, and Sonic Arts Network, in the UK. He is a member of the performance group BMB con.
Matthea Harvey is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Of Lamb (an illustrated erasure with Amy Jean Porter) and Modern Life, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a New York Times Notable Book. She has also written books for children—The Little General and The Giant Snowflake and the forthcoming Cecil the Pet Glacier. Last summer she attended MERCON 2011 in Las Vegas where she met and photographed various “merfolk.” Previous collaborations include poems written to accompany Philip Glass’s Quartet No. 5 (performed with the Miró Quartet) and the short film Sea Full of Hooks directed by Ani Simon-Kennedy (based on her poem “The Straightforward Mermaid”).
stillspotting nyc PDF
Living in a big city can be fun. There’s so much going on—lots of people, traffic, and things to do. But where can you go to get a break from all the activity? The Guggenheim Museum’s project stillspotting nyc has asked artists and architects to answer that question and to create “spots” for us to enjoy “stillness.”
In 2011 and 2012, stillspotting projects took place across New York. To get you thinking about stillspotting, try this activity.
Staten Island Family Activity Guide (PDF)