Fig 1. Lee Rapira – Talkfest 2017 Installation

What inspired you to make the work?

My first idea was to make a telephone after finding out that perspex was used in making mobile phones. I liked the idea of adding rock with perspex because how different they were as mediums. One is modern and man-made, the other old and natural. After a hashing out the telephone idea, the end result wasn’t what I was after. My phone looked more like a novelty item than anything else. I tried another idea but was encouraged by

Quick breakdown…

The boom circles I was drawing in my doodles made me realize I was actually drawing dots and dots seemed to me the best way to communicate communication. I figured a timeline or an ode to communication was the best way forward. The reasons why I didn’t go with the images above is because the sonic boom circles reminded me of whale and dolphin echo’s or stereo sonic sound and I really wanted to show more plus I didn’t feel like they represented the topic of communication very well. Man’s evolutionary journey in how we communicated over time gave me much more to play with so I went with that.

What was your biggest hurdle?

Working out what to put in and what to leave out. Also, how big I wanted this to be. For example, I used the fluro Pink Perspex circles to spell out the word ‘Talkfest’ in Braille. My initial idea was to use the word ‘Communication’ but that made the work bigger because in Braille there are 6 cells for every letter. This meant that my art work would have 78 circles and would have made the work quite big. I wasn’t prepared for that. I was also mindful of costs. By choosing ‘Talkfest’ I cut down how many circles I needed, making the work smaller (saving money) but that didn’t necessarily make it easier either. I still had issues of choosing what went in and what didn’t. This was a big undertaking as I had a limited amount of space (dots) left to work with once the word Talkfest and the SOS code were put in. I have inserted pictures, links and the reasons why I choose what went into the piece below.


First doodle

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Once the word Talkfest went in, I found I had little room for other elements that needed to go into this timeline/ode. I compensated by separating the word ‘Talk’ and “fest’ by adding six more cells. This was enough room and gave me a bit more scope to work with.

Carving machinery – making my own ancient rock carving
Circles cut 100m x 100m

Rock Paintings

I really wanted to replica these wonderful handprints onto a rock and have them in the work because it is mans first record of himself. This communicated to the world that I am here.

Hand Stencil

Hand-stencil rock art from Gua Tewet, Borneo, thought to be over 10,000 years old


Moving extremely large pieces of rock from one place to another was how early man communicated back in prehistoric times. They were a visual aid for social and cultural belief purposes and were one of our first communication tools. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, Big Ben in London, The Chrysler Building in New York, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil are landmark monuments reminders of modern day feats and they communicate success.

– Modern theories

Megaliths were used for a variety of purposes ranging from serving as boundary markers of territory, to a reminder of past events, and to being part of the society’s religion.

Stonehenge Wiltshire United Kingdom – image courtesay of David Ball.

Smoke Signalling

The smoke signal is one of the oldest forms of long-distance communication. It is a form of visual communication used over long distance. In general smoke signals are used to transmit news, signal danger, or gather people to a common area. –


I have used four mirrored circles to represent the flashing that occurs when using the device and un-silvered a hole in two of the mirrors to mimic how they worked.

A heliograph (Greek: Ἥλιος helios, meaning “sun”, and γραφειν graphein, meaning “write”) is a wireless solar telegraph that signals by flashes of sunlight (generally using Morse code) reflected by a mirror. The flashes are produced by momentarily pivoting the mirror, or by interrupting the beam with a shutter. The heliograph was a simple but effective instrument for instantaneous optical communication over long distances during the late 19th and early 20th century. Its main uses were military, survey and forest protection work. Heliographs were standard issue in the British and Australian armies until the 1960s, and were used by the Pakistani army as late as 1975.

Heliographs and the sun –

Pic 1 & 2



Morse Code

I have the S.O.S signal in my art piece but they could not be placed next to each other as a full message because I had already designated the red circles to particular places for the word ‘Talkfest’. I decided it still worked as not all S.O.S messages got through.

Morse code is a method of transmitting text information as a series of on-off tones, lights, or clicks that can be directly understood by a skilled listener or observer without special equipment. It is named for Samuel F. B. Morse, an inventor of the telegraph.

Morse Code
Samuel Morse

Samuel Finley Breese Morse (April 27, 1791 – April 2, 1872) was an American painter and inventor. After having established his reputation as a portrait painter, in his middle age Morse contributed to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system based on European telegraphs. He was a co-developer of the Morse code and helped to develop the commercial use of telegraphy. –

This distress signal was first adopted by the German government in radio regulations effective April 1, 1905, and became the worldwide standard under the second International Radiotelegraphic Convention, which was signed on November 3, 1906, and became effective on July 1, 1908. SOS remained the maritime radio distress signal until 1999, when it was replaced by the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.[1] SOS is still recognized as a visual distress signal.


The red perspex circles in my installation spell the word ‘Talkfest’

Braille was based on a tactile military code called night writing, developed by Charles Barbier in response to Napoleon’s demand for a means for soldiers to communicate silently at night and without a light source.