Hacking Rhetoric

Artist Statement: Hack of a Summary of a Hack

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The hack I summarized last week was a “phone phreak”. I focused in particular on phone phreaker Joybubbles, a hacker born blind with perfect-pitch, who would whistle various frequencies to gain access to the inner workings of the telephone network. By using his whistles, he could place long-distance calls for free. He first figured out this hack when he was 8 years old, but his fascination with phones would continue throughout his life. Abused and lonely as child, Joybubbles could escape into the auditory world of the telephone. It was a great joy for him to hear the dial tones, speak with operators, and make tele-friends the world over. For my hack of the summary, I wanted to utilize sound in order to convey Joybubble’s fascination with aural aspects of the telephone, as well as further illustrate the means by which this hack was carried out- tones and whistles.


My popcorn video incorporates vintage footage from telephone ads, as well as clips from the PBS television show Borders in which Joybubbles is featured. Also utilized were audio recordings of Joybubbles himself and friend and fellow phreaker Steven Gibb. The recordings were compiled by artist Rachel Morrison as part of “JOYBUBBLES: TELEPHONE PROJECT”. The audio project may be listened to in full by dialing (718) 362-9578.


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