What is Cell Phone Stories? Who is on the other end of the line? And why does LACMA want me to tune in?
Such are the questions that have been in the ether since we launched Cell Phone Stories, a project conceived of by artist Steve Fagin, in late May. Cell Phone Stories brings to my mind the title of a short essay by Jonathan Swift, “On the Difficulty of Talking with Objects.” If El Lissitzky’s Proun 3A (on view in the Ahmanson Building) sent you a message, what would it say? If the walls, even the escalator, could chat, what would they say? Such fantasies fuel the content of Cell Phone Stories.
It has been an interesting challenge to succinctly respond to “what is Cell Phone Stories?” Technically, the project takes place on and through a communications device, the cell phone, but conceptually the participants who have been invited to interpret and “speak for” the museum have chosen many ways to give voice to the museum’s contents. Overall, this project has been an experiment led by artists, writers, and other cultural figures, to test the limits of how curatorial and education departments have utilized the notion of interactivity through technological interfaces. Not surprisingly, some of our participants have responded with a critique of interactivity.
Steve Fagin’s ongoing chronicle Only For Dummies: Punctured Utopias of Another Century uses a ventriloquist proxy not only to give voice to historical objects and personas (and what better “voice” than a dummy’s?) but to reflect on the utopian discourses that drove past art movements and how those “punctured” ideologies are still at work in conceptions of the museum in the twenty-first century. Fagin’s other Smart Phone partners in crime, Barry Yourgrau, Kianga Ford, and Adrienne Ferrari, have also used the CPS weekly missives to send out fractured forms of institutional critique.
In the weeks to come Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the power sister team behind the Rodarte fashion label, will send out sketches for designs based on LACMA’s permanent collection; actor Rainn Wilson will take over LACMA’s Twitter account; Barry Yourgrau (in a maneuver that Jonathan Swift would love) will send out a story about the incredible shrinking LACMA; not to mention more surprises from our regular contributors Fagin, Ford and Ferrari!
Text “LACMA” to 67553 to receive weekly text messages that will direct you to the various components of this project, which will include text stories, links to videos, graphics, and audio experiences.
Rita Gonzalez, Associate Curator, Contemporary Art