The Public Utteraton Machine is an interactive public art work that looks like a public telephone from the 19th century. Its aim is to intervene into the practice and discourse of public art in New York in areas where public art is not normally found. The public Utteraton Machines ask passersby whether they have seen other public art and what they think of it in the form of audio recordings and quantitative data collection. They are solar powered.


The Public Utteraton Machine was installed at the following locations for 2 weeks each:


Long Island City, NY


Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY




The Public Utteraton Machine is solar powered and has 2 points of engagement for passersby.


- 19th C. telephone interface, which asks viewers questions, to which one can answer in narrative form. Answers are recorded anonymously.


- 21C e-paper display screen, that asks yes/no questions.


For a list of questions, please visit the "audio recordings" pages above. For responses please visit the "display responses" page.




Currently, little research exists that examines the reasoning behind the locations of public art in New York, as well as what residents might think of it, or wish for it after it has been installed. Whereas 'gallery' art  normally has a publicly constituted apparatus of commentary and scholarly interrogation, that surrounds it, public art which exists outside the traditional gallery space paradoxically does not have such an apparatus of dissemination and discourse. There is less public art in the outer boroughs of New York that in the neighborhoods and outer boroughs. The Public Utteraton Machines will, in the form of objects in space provide a counter narrative to this established system of locations. As urban interventions, they will uncover whether people really want, care for or are indifferent towards public art.


If more funding is secured for installation costs, the Public Utteraton Machines are available for other cities and other NY boroughs, such as Harlem or the Bronx.


Artist: Rebecca Hackemann

Fabrication: J.Stemmler, Northpenn Machine Works

Programming: Bruce Bahlmann

Permits: NYC Parks and Recreation

Research support: KSU, University of the Arts London