Kieron Dennis, ‘Question, Answer, Question’ – a telephone installation

TELEPHONE +44 (0) 2075039044

Kieron Dennis, ‘Question, Answer, Question’

22 November – 21 December 2008

In 1934, the writer, H. G Wells, is said to have complained about telephones being an invasion of privacy. Rather than have news forced upon us as and when, Wells proposed a one-way telephone that would deliver information upon demand. According to historian, John Brooks, Wells was responding to what literary theorist, Avital Ronell, describes as the ‘disconnecting force’ of the telephone: a force that simultaneously disturbs and attracts us to such machines. Brooks suggests that Wells picked-up on that ‘projective trait of the telephone, which is the launching of speech – and speech alone – in the direction of the other in constant demand for immediate readiness.’ It is a demand that is answered by a question, which is at the same time an answer: ‘Yes?’ or ‘Hello?’ As such, answering a telephone becomes a declaration of readiness to receive and engage.

Kieron Dennis’s new work for Telephone, ‘Question, Answer, Question’, reports an incident. The information flows in one direction only, towards the listener: this is an encounter rather than a dialogue. The ‘demand for immediate readiness’ here is one of listening instead of speech.

The information in Dennis’s work seems pressing and urgent, but also somehow distant and disconnected from any specific context. And as much as knowledge is imparted, ignorance is admitted. A series of subtle inversions punctuate the work: subjects speak of one thing whilst, unwittingly, betraying another. Objects and images conjured by work, and that the listener might take to mean one thing, might well have come to mean something quite different.

Telephone is a project that uses a telephone number to present artworks (sound works). Telephone is an exhibition space, like a gallery, but one that offers space as time-duration rather than as physical dimensions. Telephone operates via a standard digital answering machine set to ‘answer only’. Telephone can be called by anyone, from anywhere, at any time (with calls being charged at a standard land-line rate). It makes use of a single telephone line, which means that each individual caller has sole access to the work at any one time: Telephone is not a broadcast.

Telephone +44 (0) 2075039044

Telephone is a project by Claire Davies and Sam Gathercole

email: information.telephone [at]