A few weeks ago, I posted about the “typical dream” of a New Yorker, in which said New Yorker one night discovers a whole extra room hidden away somewhere in an otherwise cramped Manhattan apartment – opening up a disguised door, in the back of the closet… and finding a fully furnished 20’x20′ master suite. With a bearskin rug. Or a new bathroom, with gold-plated taps and a trouser press. Or an entire backyard, full of gas grills, hidden behind the living room wall.
The ecstasy of having more space in Manhattan.
I then suggested that someone should go around New York interviewing people who have had this dream – or asking people who have never had this dream to ad lib, describing what sorts of extra rooms and spaces they would most like to find, tucked away behind the limited square-footage of walls and apartment living.
You’d then edit all the responses up into a radio show – and broadcast it live at rush hour, without explanation.
The city goes wild.
Manhattan is full of extra rooms! people scream. There are secret hallways everywhere! People start knocking on walls and rifling through closets, desperately searching for a place of their own. Maybe an undiscovered planetarium in the basement crawlspace.
In any case: we’re now doing it.
We’re making the radio show.
We, in this case, is BLDGBLOG and DJ /rupture (who spoke at Postopolis! last month); we’ll be putting your extra room fantasies on the air…
Specifically, /rup’s got a weekly radio show on WFMU – 91.1 FM in New York City – and, to collect your dreams, we’ve signed up for a free, joint voicemail account.
It’s voicemail as public recording booth.
So what’s your extra room fantasy? You don’t have to live in New York to answer. If you woke up in the middle of the night and found a door… where would you want it to go?
Call +1 (206) 337-1474 and let us know. If we like your story, we’ll put you – anonymous, woven into a background of music, without explanation – live on the air in New York City, then podcasted around the world and available via MP3.
Meanwhile, there are ten thousand other potential uses for a voicemail account and a weekly radio show.
Over the next few weeks and months, then, DJ /rupture and I will be switching things up: asking new questions and looking for new material. For instance, there’ll be a field-recordings-by-phone project – where someone standing on the Oregon coast can call +1 (206) 337-1474 and record two minutes’ worth of coastal ambiance, which will later be played live on the radio – and a sound-of-your-favorite-bus-stop-as-recorded-by-a-cell-phone project, and a sound-of-your-empty-office-elevator project, and any number of other possibilities.
The sound of migrating geese, recorded by cell phone.
The sounds of 5th Avenue, recorded using every public phone booth on that street – a kind of sonic history of public space.
Maybe even the sounds of famous architectural structures: you’re standing inside an empty room in the Empire State Building – so you give us a call: +1 (206) 337-1474. The volumetric reverb of the Taj Mahal. Summer rain pattering against the windows of the Gherkin.
Or you’re standing on a terrace outside L.A.’s Griffith Observatory, recording the desert wind on an iPhone.
It’s the voicemail account as musical instrument. Field recordings by phone. How to listen to a landscape. Podcasting space. The unexpected future of audio surveillance.
So stay tuned to WFMU, 91.1 FM in New York City, on Wednesday nights, to hear the results of the voicemail project – the first voicemail fantasies should appear within two weeks – mixed in with some kickin’ rekkids by the one and only DJ /rupture.
(For a little more about the idea behind this project, see The undiscovered bedrooms of Manhattan).