The installation consists of floating bubbles that carry conversations happening in the “private” space of a “public” phone.

“Cross-connections” is a term that was commonly used when one call between two people from a landline phone was superimposed by another call making both the conversations heard by all four people involved. Often leading to the four speaking with each other. This is interesting because privacy, suddenly becomes a relative term. It has little to do with isolation but with the hope of not being discovered in a crowd. The dispersed conversations out of a seemingly “private” space indicate towards the presence of “listeners” and “hackers” at various levels of the current communication model.

Cross connect intends to explore:

1. The notion of privacy- the feeling of un-discoverability in a space. The more “connected” one is today, the more accessible is his/her identity. (related – surveillance, RFID tags, GPS, social networking sites…)

2. The presence of listeners, participants and ‘hackers’ in every communication model.

3. To also look at the nature of conversations that take place. What do people talk about?

How it works:

A few landline phones in the exhibition space allow viewers to make free calls on the condition that others will hear their conversations. This conversation is transmitted through an FM transmitter. The balloons disseminate these conversations. They have a FM receiver and a speaker that receives these conversations and plays them back live.
The balloons have enough weight on them to just about balance their buoyancy so they don’t fall down or fly up. They also have a small lightweight propeller along with an IR distance sensor. So if the balloon begins to move down, the propeller slightly thrusts it upwards.
All the components are put together in the form of a disc at the bottom of the balloon, and thus can be reused by just replacing (or refilling) the balloon.

Shifts/Variations/ what we were able to realize

Floating big balloons that carry transmitted voices from a hacked land line phone. We had also some interesting accidents of the propellers malfunctioning and taking the balloon up and getting it stuck on a very high ceiling ;)

Kitchen Budapest One year Exhibition, Millenáris, Budapest. July 2008

Video links :

Participant researchers

Ramyah Gowrishankar, Dávid Lakatos, Melinda Sipos, András Szalai

May 2008