Enacting a sort of modern day Walden from my tent in the Laurel Highlands, I constructed my own communications tower extending the reach of the phone tower just over the ridge. Is technology merely an “improved means toward an unimproved end” as Henry David Thoreau put it? Is there really nothing to say? As I considered his cynical view of technology, culture, and the content of the telegraph in light of today’s possibilities, I carved a slit gong from a log. These types of talking drums, able to generate sound waves reaching for miles, have been used since antiquity to alert neighbors of invasion, exchange idle gossip, or entertain. Sitting atop a hillside in the Laurel Highlands it became a communications dead-end as incoming messages, having made it to this final station, are permanently deleted with a musical flourish sending faint echoes through the forest and through time.
A recreation of the piece was installed for group show Extra Fancy at Bakery Square in April 2012. It consisted of the tower, a partly-carved log, three video channels, and polaroid photos of cell towers disguised as trees.