This article originally appeared on The Creators Project Netherlands.
There's an old iPhone 1 on display in the middle of the gallery on the Govert Flinckstraat 145 in the Netherlands. On a lone pedestal, the device is covered in a plastic bag, locked in a mold, and connected to its charger, awaiting your call.
The art piece is called 0642764284, which is the number used to call the iPhone [Editor's note: for US callers, use the country code +31 first]. If you dial in, a voicemail can be heard in three different languages, after which you can leave a message. SMS messaging is also possible, but no one will ever view your text. In this way, the sealed iPhone takes on the form of a sort of digital confession booth wherein you can let go of your secrets. Its 23-year old creators, Noah Latif Lamp and Ciro Dublos of the art collective Indebt Studio, would later, in a happy tone, admit that one could even confess to murder without anyone ever finding out. At their gallery, I spoke to the artists about 0642764284:
The Creators Project: Why would you place a mobile phone into a solid mold?
Noah Latif Lamp (N): I have never had a mobile phone
Ciro Dublos (C): I’m not exactly sure when we got the idea. I think we were sitting by the Okura hotel, by the water.
C: Yeah, but the location is not really of importance. We sat there thinking, ‘How sick would it be if there was a phone that you can call, but you can't necessarily answer?' Our first idea was to hang the phone up high in a tree, so you can always hear it ringing, but can’t pick up.
N: At a certain moment we had a revelation: we need make a phone that you can't pick up, but that is always reachable.
Didn't you find it annoying for it to always be reachable?
C: No, not at all. Noah has never even had a phone.
Presently, still no phone?
N: Yeah, now I do, but for business purposes. I have to now. But shhhhh... don’t tell anyone.
C: Another night we were on the streets by Blauweplein. There was a homeless man spouting some banter.
Banter, what was that about?
N: We were talking about conspiracies about Apple. That the logo of Apple is a forbidden fruit missing a bite. We also made a conscious decision to use the first iPhone. It refers to the forbidden fruit. As soon as you eat the fruit, you’re fucked up.
So when you buy your first smartphone, you’re fucked?
N: Yeah, when the first iPhone came out, shit got ultra-digitalized. So it’s a sort of forbidden fruit, right? It’s the beginning of the end.
Is this art piece criticizing that?
C: I don’t know if that’s criticism, but it’s suggestive and an observation. Other than that, we have no opinion about it.
Still, it’s a beautiful comparison: the beginning of a new era.
C: Yeah, it’s actually a deeper layer to the work. On a basic level, it's a telephone you cannot reach. If we tell people that, it’s usually enough of an explanation.
N: You can call the phone and speak in voicemails. You can send it messages but everything remains in the phone, no one can see it. One could even confess to murder.
A sort of digital confession?
N: Yeah, no one has access to it except for the internet. We don’t mean anything religious with it, except that Apple itself is a religion.
C: If people have Apple products, they have all the Apple products. A phone, a computer, etc.
N: God is the iCloud.
So the iPhone is a sin?
N: Look, when the snake persuaded Eve to eat the fruit, they realized they were naked. Then they got thrown out of paradise. They were suddenly aware they were people and not animals. They stepped out of nature and began feeling ashamed of their nudity. With all of these smartphones, we have stepped out of nature. People are very conscious of what they show of themselves. We are our own self-made Gods on social media. Everyone only shows their best side.
In conclusion: whose phone is it?
C: No one’s. We found it.
The exhibition opened on April 3 at Govert Flinckstraat 145 and will be on display for the next two months.