June 5, 2012 - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum - stillspotting nyc: staten island
June 5, 2012

stillspotting nyc: staten island

Staten Island aerial photograph, 2012. © 2012 Iwan Baan.*

stillspotting nyc: staten island​
Justin Bennett and Matthea Harvey

July 14–15, 21–22, 28–29, and August 4–5, 2012

Several locations in Staten Island starting 
near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in St. George


For the fourth edition of stillspotting nyc, a two-year multidisciplinary project that takes the Guggenheim Museum’s programming out into the streets of New York City’s boroughs, sound artist Justin Bennett and poet Matthea Harvey present Telettrofono, an audio walking tour that braids history with fantasy along and around the waterfront.

Telettrofono will be offered in the St. George and New Brighton neighborhoods of Staten Island for four summer weekends: July 14–15, July 21–22, July 28–29, and August 4–5, 2012. Starting from a stillspotting nyc kiosk, located near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in St. George, visitors will take a soundwalk, guided by an approximately one and a half-hour recording.

Antonio Meucci, a Staten Island resident of Italian birth, was the unacknowledged inventor of the first telephone (or telettrofono), conceived in 1849, when he accidentally discovered, while administering electrical shocks to a man suffering from rheumatism, that sound could travel along electrical wires. Many of his inventions—a marine telephone, a lactometer, flame-retardant paint and smokeless candles—went far beyond the imagination of his contemporaries. For Telettrofono, Bennett and Harvey meld ambient sounds from the borough with invented noises such as pianos of stone and glass, or a bone-xylophone, with a poetic script for an audio walking tour that weaves Meucci’s tragic true-to-life story together with fantastical elements. Bennett and Harvey envision Meucci’s wife, Esterre, a mermaid who leaves the water for land because of her love for the sounds above ground.

The walk in search of this storied couple meanders along the waterfront, past salt mounds and industrial sites, through historic residential neighborhoods and into places of discovery. The route is designed as a spiral to lead visitors out from the coast into the land, while the recorded story transports listeners out from the external urban environment into a state of introspection. Participants will listen to the narrative soundscape through an imagined present-day telettrofono, a phone that is “smart” in the sense that it can enable listening under and across the water, dialing into fairytale and fact, mermaid choruses, and real and invented patent applications. The telettrofono will guide the listener through changing perspectives on sound and place within the tale of the Meuccis from Florence and Havana, as well as the stories, sights, and silences distinct to Staten Island.

Visiting Telettrofono
A visit to Telettrofono consists of a self-guided soundwalk where participants will engage in a walking tour around Staten Island, guided by the pre-recorded sounds transmitted through borrowed iPods. Visitors begin at a stillspotting kiosk located near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in St. George. Hours are Saturdays and Sundays, July 14–15, 21–22, 28–29, and August 4–5, from 12–7pm. Visitors will receive a map and iPods will be available in exchange for a photo ID until 4pm. The recorded program is approximately one and a half hours long. Advance registration is strongly suggested. To register and purchase tickets, find directions, or to learn more visit stillspotting.guggenheim.org.

Visitors wishing to travel by bicycle to stillspotting nyc may take advantage of an additional free self-guided cycling program created in collaboration with NYC’s Department of Transportation. A map with a suggested bike route that highlights issues of silence and noise around Staten Island will be available at the ticketing kiosk and for download at stillspotting.guggenheim.org.

Stillspotting nyc is organized by David van der Leer, Assistant Curator, Architecture and Urban Studies, with Sarah Malaika, Stillspotting Project Associate, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Support for stillspotting nyc is provided by the Rockefeller Foundation NYC Opportunities Fund and a MetLife Foundation Museum and Community Connections grant. This project is also supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. The Leadership Committee for stillspotting nyc, co-chaired by Franklin Campbell and Pamela Samuels, is gratefully acknowledged for its support.



Guggenheim presents stillspotting nyc: staten island
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
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