Opera Calling is a hacking performance and installation initially created by Mediengruppe Bitnik as part of an exhibition at Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich in 2007 (9–26 May). The performance consisted of several bugs hidden in the auditorium of the Zurich Opera House that caused the transmission of live recordings of operas performed during this period to random telephone numbers of Zurich residents listed in the telephone book. The installation at Cabaret Voltaire was composed of hundreds of telephone receivers dangling from the ceiling, with which viewers could follow these calls. 90 hours of opera were broadcast live to 4363 households before the managers of the opera succeeded in discovering all the hidden bugs.
In this work, the artists not only appropriated property of high culture and transferred it to a low medium, but also crossed an explicitly non-spoken experience with a medium of communication made expressly for the transmission of speech. The hacked audience, rather than just being a recipient of the opera, unwittingly became a commentator of the musical experience, while in a public museum space visitors to the exhibition bore witness to many an entertaining, private exploration of the medium of opera by people at home gathered around their telephone receiver.
(Text: Bettina Back)
Mediengruppe Bitnik is a collaboration between the artists Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo. Their accomplices are the London filmmaker and researcher Adnan Hadzi and the reporter Daniel Ryser. Their contemporary practice is located in digital media (working in and with the internet ) and its influence on the transformation of physical space. They deliberately play with elements of a loss of control to question established structures and mechanisms.
Carmen Weisskopf, 1976, Switzerland and Domagoj Smoljo, 1979, Croatia live and work in Zurich and Berlin.