Guggenheim Presents Summer Waterfront Soundwalks for stillspotting nyc


Fourth Edition in Off-Site Exhibition Series Weaves History with Fantasy to Explore Stillness and Story in the Urban Environment

Exhibition:           stillspotting nyc: staten island 
                           Telettrofono by Justin Bennett and Matthea Harvey
Venue:                Several locations in Staten Island starting near the
                           Staten Island Ferry Terminal in St. George
Dates:                 July 14–15, July 21–22, July 28–29, and August 4–5, 2012

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(NEW YORK, NY – May 31, 2012) -- Stillspotting nyc is a two-year multidisciplinary project that takes the Guggenheim Museum’s programming out into the streets. Site-specific commissions in all five of New York City’s boroughs identify moments of urban quiet and respond to everyday issues of noise and anxiety. For stillspotting nyc: staten island, the fourth edition in the series, 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.

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.

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, such as the St. George Theater. 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 12pm–5pm. Visitors will receive a map and iPods will be available in exchange for a photo ID until 5pm. The recorded program is approximately one and a half hours long. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for members and will be available in mid-June by credit card only. Discounted rates are available for groups of ten or more. Advance registration is strongly suggested. To register and purchase tickets, find directions, or to learn more visit

For stillspotting nyc: staten island, the Guggenheim Museum is in collaboration with NYC’s Department of Transportation on a city-wide initiative. As in the past edition, visitors wishing to travel by bicycle tostillspotting nyc may take advantage of an additional free self-guided cycling program that highlights issues of silence and noise around the neighborhoods of Randall Manor, New Brighton, St. George, Tompkinsville, Stapleton, Clifton, and Rosebank, and directs participants out to places such as the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum and the Alice Austen House. A map with a suggested bike route will be available at the ticketing kiosk and for download at

Family Program
Saturday, August 4, 2-4 pm
In conjunction with Telettrofono, families are invited to attend a program at the Garibaldi Museum that will include a tour focusing on Antonio Meucci’s life and work, a reading, art activities, and refreshments. Admission to the family program is free. The Garibaldi Meucci Museum is located at 420 Tompkins Avenue, Staten Island, with more information at

About Justin Bennett
Justin Bennett is an artist and composer working with sound and visual media. Bennett is best known for his work with field recordings, which he uses to create installations in public spaces, soundwalks, and live performances. Much of his work is concerned with urban space and the relationship of sound to place. In the last few years he worked with Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, the Centre Culturel Suisse in Paris, the Guangzhou Triennial, Istanbul Biennial, Soundtrackcity in Amsterdam, Barbara Seiler Galerie in Zürich, and Sonic Arts Network, in the UK. He is a member of the performance group BMB con.

About Matthea Harvey
Matthea Harvey is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Of Lamb (an illustrated erasure with Amy Jean Porter) and Modern Life, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a New York Times Notable Book. She has also written books for children—The Little General and the Giant Snowflake and the forthcoming Cecil the Pet Glacier. Last summer she attended MERCON 2011 in Las Vegas where she met and photographed various “merfolk.” Previous collaborations include poems written to accompany Philip Glass’s Quartet No. 5 (performed with the Miró Quartet) and the short film Sea Full of Hooks directed by Ani Simon-Kennedy (based on her poem The Straightforward Mermaid).

Editions of stillspotting nyc
Following Telettrofono for stillspotting nyc: staten island, a final fifth edition in the Bronx by Improv Everywhere will be offered in October 2012. Prior editions featured Sanatorium by visual artist Pedro Reyes in downtown Brooklyn; To a Great City around Lower Manhattan by composer Arvo Pärt and architectural firm Snøhetta; and Transhistoria in Jackson Heights, Queens, by architectural firm Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu (SO – IL).

Improv Everywhere and stillspotting nyc
Over the two-year course of the project, the group Improv Everywhere explores the themes of stillness, silence, and noise in the urban environment through a series of performances in public spaces. Using undercover actors, the group has staged unexpected scenes for people to discover across New York City. The Staten Island project entitled Car Alarm Symphony will debut June 4. These projects are documented online at and will culminate in the final edition of stillspotting nyc in the Bronx.

Interactive Programs and Studies for stillspotting nyc
In conjunction with the projects organized around the city, visitors may identify and plot out their personal areas of quiet and respite in a personalized map as part of the Create Your Own Stillspot program at

For stillspotting nyc, the Spatial Information Design Lab (SIDL) at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University was commissioned to develop a mapping study on silence and noise in New York City. The interactive map developed by SIDL presents actual noise complaints generated by New York residents when calling 311, the city's phone number for government information and non-emergency services. Reading the complaints offers insight into the city’s types of noise, and the contrasts between private and social space as well as between residential and commercial necessities. A second visual study was developed with students in the MFA program in the Photography, Video, and Related Media Department at the School of Visual Arts who created video studies of the visual, aural, and sociological ecology of the urban landscape. The interactive maps and videos are presented on

About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. The global network that began in the 1970s when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, was joined by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, has expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (opened 1997), the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin (1997-2012), and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi currently under development. Looking to the future, the Guggenheim Foundation continues to forge international collaborations that take contemporary art, architecture, and design beyond the walls of the museum. More information about the Foundation can be found at

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June 21, 2012 (Updated from May 31, 2012)

Lauren Van Natten, Associate Director, Media and Public Relations
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
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