Inspired by the chaos surrounding Britain's EU exit and the nature of technology in altering how our opinions are received, artist Joe Sweeney has created a project that will immortalise real peoples' views (and voices) on Brexit.
The project, titled, '+44: Leave a Message for Europe,' has seen a sculpture of a BT telephone box installed on Dungeness beach in Kent, which will remain for the next 28 days, (the lead up to our departure from the EU.)
For its duration, the sculpture can be called on a freephone number via the website, www.leaveamessage4europe.com, allowing people to leave candid messages regarding our EU departure. Said messages will then be saved to form a publicly accessible vocal archive, and be will utilised at a later date for an additional video piece.
To mark the project, LOVE spoke to Sweeney to find out how he thinks the project will be received in the future, what attracted him to reviving the old school telephone box and what will come next.
The project has been made in collaboration with the Cob Gallery and is supported by Arts Council England
Having an actual voice recording of people’s uninterrupted views on Brexit is genius - how do you think the archive will be received 100/200 years from now?
That’s something that’s been in my mind the whole way through this project. Wouldn’t it be great if we had voice recordings now of the public from 200 years ago. The voices, characters and was of speaking were possibly completely different, even the language and its meaning. This will surely be the case in the next 200 years to come, it definitely holds quite an anthropological weight behind it, and especially at such a pivotal moment in European and even world, history.
What initially sparked the idea to use a phone box - an old school concept reminiscent of a time when voice what the predominant means of communication?
Well it’s a bastion of the British high street, instantly recognisable and definitely one of the most resilient fixtures I can think of. I can still remember, just faintly, using one. I hear they cost more to remove than just leave, that’s a grand metaphor for something but I haven’t quite figured it out yet. The thought of setting this icon against the unspoiled natural horizon of the sea, really spoke about the current political climate in Britain, the feel of uncertainty and confusion and chartering the unknown. I want bring the focus back to vocal opinions, voices hold, humanity and without that, how can you really understand where someone is coming from?
It was said that the recordings may later be used for video work, do you have any idea what those videos may consist of?
It will be one video piece that syncs the footage and the recordings, depicting the full 28 days in March leading up to the official date Britain leaves the EU. I hope it will serve as a consolidated and authentic time-based media piece, that dedicatedly archives a substantial chapter in history for years to come.