From John Giorno’s Dial-a-Poem to Callin’ Oates, Amusing Hotlines to Ring
Zoom fatigue—which is to say, screen fatigue—is all too real in these extremely online and indoor times, making old-school telephone calls a welcome, intimate reprieve. While we eagerly await museum reopenings, we’re getting our fix by dialing in to a handful of audio-based artworks. The late poet and performance artist John Giorno launched his legendary Dial-a-Poem hotline in 1967, offering automated readings of short poems over the phone—an innovative technology at the time and a clever, playful way of connecting wider audiences in a more accessible way. While the original number is no longer in service, an iteration now lives on at 641-793-8122, thanks to the New Museum, and the seeds of Giorno’s revolutionary art-by-phone experiment have taken a rather comical turn in recent years, with a spate of humorous hotlines.