Here There and Everywhere: The Art Of Collaboration
Thing: Part I   Poetic

10 Seconds 1 Bayt

Marisa Jahn • USA • Artist
Connor Dickie • USA • Scientist, Artist, Inventor and Entrepreneur
the Tajik Public and Poets throughout the world.

Many Tajiks are aware that for those cell phone users who have a plan with the Central Asian telecommunications company named Babilon, the first ten seconds of any phone call are free. To take advantage of this freebie, strategic users have developed a new art form—the ten-second conversation.

Inspired by this contemporary cultural form and the Tajik tradition of two-verse poetry (or ‘Bayt’), artist Marisa Jahn and emergent-media artist Connor Dickie launched a three-day public art project for the best ten-second poems. Advertised over the airwaves, on text crawl on Tajikistan's national TV, through posters and through the marketing channels of the project’s organizational partners (Bactria, CEC Artslink, REV- and Sogd Cultural Center), the competition garnered 55 submissions that were recorded and immediately posted online. Two Tajik poets and a television anchorwoman juried the submissions. (The technical backend supporting 10 Seconds 1 Bayt consists of a telephone answering robot that answered each call, took a photo of the phone number and posted the poem online with the caller information only available to jurors.)

The project’s title, Bayt (pronounced ‘bite’ in English), refers to both the Tajik word for the short two-verse poem popularized to Western audiences by the Rubayat, written in the 12th century by poet Omar Khayyam. Bayt shares the pronunciation of the English noun that means ‘a small piece’ (as in “Just a bite”) and the ‘byte’, an internationally recognized unit used to measure quantities of digital data.

Cell phones throughout Tajikistan • October 2009

Note: 10 Sec. 1 Bayt is a project that emerged from CEC Artslink’s new initiative, the Global Arts Lab. The Global Arts Lab seeks to expand global cultural dialogue by engaging with previously marginalized communities, by presenting their perspectives and understandings to new audiences and expanding an appreciation of these ideas through international collaboration and artistic practice. In Fall 2009, Marisa Jahn and three other US-based artists traveled to four cities in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan (Khojand, Dushanbe, Osh and Bishkek) to conduct a project in the local community as well as participate in public programs, such as lectures at universities, workshops with youth and presentations at arts centers. The projects’ objectives are to provide ways of connecting with community or illustrating social processes that may help organizations or efforts aimed at expanding opportunities, correcting social injustices or generally to foster a greater sense of collective engagement.