Tantalum Memorial (image above of Tantalum Memorial – Residue) by Graham Harwood, Richard Wright and Matsuko Yokokoji is a series of telephony-based installations created as a memorial to the casaulties of the ‘coltan wars’ in the Congo. Built of electromagnetic ‘Strowger’ telephone switches, the basis of the first automatic telephone exchange invented in 1888 and referring to the metal tantalum, an essential component of mobile phones, in it’s title, the installation:
serves not only as a memorial, but functions also as a center of a social telephone network that is used by Congolese immigrants living in the UK. The network ‘Telephone Trottoire’ builds on the traditional Congolese communication practice of passing around news and gossip from pedestrian to pedestrian on the street to avoid state censorship. In cooperation with a London based radio program it calls Congolese listeners and plays messages, which can be commented and forwarded. The project, which classifies as a mean of communication between tradition and modernity, can note so far about 1.800 users.
The precisely poised movements and sounds of the switches create a sculptural presence for this otherwise intangible network of circulating conversations. In “Tantalum Memorial”, Harwood, Wright, and Yokoji weave together the ambiguities of globalisation, transnational migration and our addiction to constant communication.
Quotes above are taken from the projects page and the Transmediale website.
Below is an interview with Graham Harwood explaining the work in detail.
Originally seen on VVork.