"So far, the invasion has been a peaceful and subtle one... Notices for screenings of Kenneth Anger movies or Herbert Huncke poetry readings are confined to lampposts or to one of two walls – at the health-food store or the Green Room, an alternative performance space on Wythe Street, next to Slick's motorcycle-repair shop... Messages about hastily planned art events can be left on Subwire, a phone tape that changes monthly. One Williamsburg poet calls his new home 'the land that time forgot.' "
– New York Magazine, The New Bohemia issue, 1992
Williamsburg, Brooklyn's creative community emerged without the convenience of web communications. Most artists were not equipped in the early 1990s to join the internet dialogues of The Well and ECHO, and the graphics-rich World Wide Web was still in development. However, North Brooklyn did have 718-SUBWIRE, arguably the first online dialogue space of the neighborhood.
In 1991, under the label, Nerve Circle, Ebon Fisher launched Subwire as another experiment in collective information-sharing. He found an available number which translated into 718-SUBWIRE, offering an oblique reference to the subconscious and electronic networks. True to Fisher's Immersionist sensibilities, Subwire employed an affordable, emotion-rich medium of delivery: a voice-activated answering machine. Any vocalized poem, announcement or rant could be uploaded into the system by dialing 718-SUBWIRE.
In many ways, the human voice carries more emotional information than text or graphics. Subwire became a vibrant, auditory node in the emerging creative community, complementing emerging hangouts like The Bog, Epoché, The Lizard's Tail and Minor Injury Gallery. As the sample below demonstrates, artists like Tony Millionaire used Subwire to announce loungey parties at three in the morning and sculptor, Rob Hickman, delivered ruminations on the double-edged sword of bohemian glamour. It was a very personal medium. As Williamsburg artist, Jessica Nissen states in the sample below, "Subwire is ultimately a personal tentacle."
Left: A sample of 718-SUBWIRE from January 2, 1992, with music and an introduction by Ebon Fisher.
Please contact us if you recognize your voice. We'll list you here.