The Handphone Table
by Laurie Anderson, 1978 (recreated 2017)
The inspiration for The Handphone Table began when Anderson was writing on an electric typewriter and, in a moment of frustration, put her head in her hands, elbows on the table. She heard the sound of the humming typewriter transferred through the wooden table via the contact points of her elbows. The sound vibration traveled by bone conduction through her arms and into her inner ear.
The Handphone Table (“When You We’re Hear”) was originally made for Projects series Museum of Modern Art, NYC in 1978. The 2017 version was made by Laurie Anderson and the Exploratorium in cooperation with MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts. The music is composed by Anderson.
Laurie Anderson is one of America’s most renowned creative pioneers. Known primarily for her multimedia presentations, she has cast herself in roles as varied as visual artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker, electronics whiz, vocalist, and instrumentalist.