Touchtone

Telemarketers aren't the only ones plundering Ma Bell. There are also the phonephreaks, drawn to the live wires of talk and titillation. Eric Saks is one such telephiliac who has made remarkable works out of errant chitchat and free-floating communiqués. Dirt (2004, 25 mins, Color) is a mash of answering-machine messages Saks has collected over the years. The image track, a strange concoction of educational films, ignites and decomposes as we watch. As a companion, we bring back Saks's crank-call classic Don from Lakewood (codirected by Patrick Tierney, 1989, 23 mins, B&W) in which Don, an annoying agoraphobe, drives a sofa salesman bonkers. Two street actions involving phones follow: Chris Sollars's Phone Tag (2001, 6 mins, Color) and Lee Walton's Off the Hook (2005, 1:30 mins, Color); as well as Golan Levin's ambitious Dialtones: A Telesymphony (2001, 9 mins, Color). Jon Brumit, who has composed for telephonic ensembles, will conduct live musical auditions on the phone.

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