Public Supply I (1966) - Max Neuhaus

Public Supply I, WBAI, New York, 1966

For "Public Supply I," Max Neuhaus confined his role as musician to that of a "catalyst for sound-producing activities," using the largest existing network, the telephone network, which had about 500 million subscribers at the time. Using technology he had constructed himself, he was able to mix calls coming in to ten telephones in the studios of the WBAI radio station in New York in different ways, and then broadcast this melange of listeners' sounds and noises. Once the listeners who called in had switched their radios on, he played with the feedback this produced and bundled sounds from introverted and extroverted callers together.

"I realized I could open a large door into the radio studio with the telephone; if I installed telephone lines in the studio, anybody could sonically walk in from any telephone. At that time there were no live call-in shows. […] Although I was not able to articulate it in 1966, now, after having worked with this idea for a long time and talked about it and thought about it, it seems that what these works are really about is proposing to reinstate a kind of music which we have forgotten about and which is perhaps the original impulse for music in man: not making a musical product to be listened to, but forming a dialogue, a dialogue without language, a sound dialogue."