Televox, 2017


Televox is a musical composition built from messages sent between people living and working along the new Northern-Line extension Battersea – Nine Elms – Kennington in South London, commissioned by Art on the Underground.

Following the route of the new Northern Line Extension (Kennington – Nine Elms – Battersea Power Station), the project opened a line of communication between communities in close geographic proximity. Smith drew inspiration from the history of the telegraph in Nine Elms, which provided a revolution in long distance communication in the nineteenth century. In contrast, the project offers a new form of short distance communication through musical telegraphy between neighbours.

As part of her initial research Smith presented a series of public research activities exploring ideas behind the project at Tate Modern for Tate Exchange between January and March 2017; and identified local residents, businesses and community groups located along the route of the new Northern Line Extension.

Smith walked the length of the Northern Line Extension in three days in June, collecting messages from local residents and businesses about what being a neighbour means to them. Participants were invited to contribute a ten-word message, the equivalent length of an old telegram message.

These messages were translated into Morse code, and then in to a musical score for a pianola.  The placement of the notes and timings were determined according to the geographic location from which the message was given.

The performance of the score, written for a Duo-Art Pianola premiered on Saturday 15 July 2017 at Battersea Power Station.

A series of posters based on the coded messages exchanged were exhibited across Northern line stations.