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  Conversations In The City, 2008, 11 minutes 23 seconds More Videos  

Conversations in the City - Statement – Christine Dehne

As I walk down the street in the city I am privy to portions of strangers’ lives.  I hear things I never wanted to know about people I will never meet.  Many days it seems that everyone in the busy streets around me would rather be speaking with someone who isn’t there than experiencing what is happening right in front of them.

Traveling through the seemingly endless stream of partial conversations I start to thread them together, to imagine that the woman in the gray skirt is speaking with the man wearing the brown shoes across the street.  I start developing a new context for her words, pulling them together with sentences I heard on the last block from someone else’s’ lips.

I use a highly directional microphone and audio recorder and capturing snippets of conversations.  I then edit these partial, incomplete thoughts into a meandering conversation. 

My art making is driven by my interaction with my environment.  Cell phones give us constant companionship, but is this really a worthwhile thing?  I am hoping that after watching this piece the viewer will give thought to his or her own daily experiences on the street, and perhaps instead of fidgeting with text messaging or calling someone, he or she will simply experience the world around him/her for a moment.  This is the general goal of my work:  To ask the viewer to experience the world around him/herself for a moment, perhaps looking at the mundane in a new way.

The use of an iPod nano to show the piece in this gallery really fits with my intentions of allowing the viewer to experience the work by focusing on the audio.  The nano carries the piece to the viewer in a format that mimics the streets of NYC – those who aren’t focused on their phones have their iPod headphones on – yet another method of avoiding contact within your immediate surroundings.

The map of Manhattan moves across the iPod screen following a combination of a few different walks I took while recording the audio for the piece.  In this manner I am inviting the viewer to accompany me on these treks and experience a bit of the city with me.  I kept the imagery simplified to a map in order to allow the audio to fully drive the experience for the user.


This project showed at Arizona Digital Media Investigations. For this show the piece was shown on an iPod nano as well as on a computer. There was an online discussion at this site by the participants in the show about teaching and creating digital media. In addition, I was interviewed for an article that was printed in Flagstaff Live.

This piece was also the opening video at the Heritage Film Festival.

And it will be shown at Point. at Sweet Lorraine Gallery in Brooklyn in April 2010.

One thing that is particularly interesting about this piece is that it has now shown in a theater, on a computer and iPod Nano, and on a TV monitor, so it really has been shown in all screening possibilities.