The Automatic Confessional was a project created and curated by Hal McGee from August 19, 2009 through March 2, 2010. Anyone and everyone was invited to leave a one minute message of any sounds they wanted on Hal McGee's microcassette answering machine.
McGee collected 21 one-hour tapes of messages. Message content ranges from ultra-mundane to random thoughts and musings to the scandalous, suicidal and erotic and murderous confessions. The content of the tapes was solely determined by the contributors, and their messages are presented here without editing, in the order that they were received.
Participants were invited to:
Call the Automatic Confessional answering machine at 352-336-7915 and leave a one minute message of any words, thoughts, sounds, and noises. Anybody and everybody can participate!
(Please note that the telephone number is no longer in service)
Here is the original project description and project guidelines:
You are invited to telephone my microcassette answering machine and leave a message of one minute in length. Your message can be as short as you like - only a few seconds in length if you wish.
Absolutely anybody and everybody can participate.
Your telephone will connect with the machine after a few seconds (you will probably hear two rings before it connects). Then you will hear a short spoken pre-recorded message from me, and will be instructed to leave your message after a long beep sound.
The telephone number is 352 336 7915
At one minute you will hear a beep sound which indicates that the machine has stopped recording.
This is not my personal telephone number, and it is being used solely for the Automatic Confessional project.
You are allowed to leave a message of any sort, of any sounds, or words, or thoughts that you choose, with absolutely no restrictions on content.
State your name in the message if you want people to know who it is and want to be credited for the message.
You may leave a message anonymously.
You can leave as many messages as you want and there are no restrictions on how often you leave a message, but try to show restraint and do not overdo it. The idea is to get as many different people involved as possible.
I will not edit or restrict or censor the messages in any way. I want you to understand the full implications of what this means. I will allow any form of expression, no matter how offensive, objectionable, or tasteless -- this includes hate speech, racism, sexism, ageism, etc. This does not mean that I personally condone or approve of or agree with any content of any of the messages.
The answering machine tapes will be published online and will be available to the public. You are entirely responsible for the content of your messages. Think twice before you leave a message which may be personally embarrassing or compromising to you or someone else or which is slanderous, libelous, inflammatory, or hateful. Once I publish the tapes on the Internet the sounds you make in your message will be able to be heard by anyone forever. I will not remove your message from the tape - do not ask me to do so. You have been warned. Any regrets will be yours -- not mine.
I can see this as an ongoing project that will evolve and change over time. Automatic Confessional will operate with the same lo-fi conceptual and fluxus spirit as my Dictaphonia Microcassette Compilation Project but will be more open-ended and free form.
I am looking for a lot of variety in the messages, style-, content-, and mood-wise, a big grab bag audio trash heap collage.
Here are some keywords, suggestions, possibilities and random thoughts about what you could contribute:
rants, weird little sound effects, cryptic voice messages, funny, sexy, surreal, paranoid, confessions, word cut-ups, short sermons, speeches and essays, recordings from your answering machine, hate messages, haiku, circuit bent sounds, conspiracy talk, tell the machine your hopes and fears, pranks, jokes, static, buzzing, feedback of various sorts, dream recollections, confess your sins, lo tech electronic sounds, political statements, little poems and stories, just any random thoughts that come to your mind, commentary about the Automatic Confessional project, miniature instrumentals, stream of consciousness, you could make no sound if you wish, fortune cookie fortunes, field recordings as they happen through your cell phone, street musicians, drug addicts, fistfights, sporting events, insane lunatic ravings, drunken ramblings, conversations, college class lectures, arguments, aphorisms, love-making sounds, sounds of urination and defecation, belching, farting, coughing, sneezing, hiccuping, stomach-rumbling, sounds of children and pets, machine sounds of all sorts, automobile sounds, public transportation sounds, subway, trains, buses, taxis, tunnels, interstate highways, industrial and factory sounds, advertisements, sounds from markets and shops and stores and restaurants and slaughterhouses, political protests, riots, demonstrations, townhall meetings, carnivals, circus, street preachers, drug and weapons deals going down, police raids, emergency and police sirens, telephones ringing, ringtones, alarms, clocks, doorbells, windmills, oil derricks, underpasses, abandoned ruined buildings, haunted houses, UFO sightings, other paranormal phenomena including EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena), avatars, ghosts, seances, baptisms, table-tapping, church services, television and radio sounds, talk shows, video game sounds, rainstorms, thunder, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, sounds of war, sounds of death and dying and conception and birth, folk songs, anthems, toys, banjo and guitar picking and strumming, trumpet, flugelhorn, shruti box, harmonium, drums, beating on boxes and metal and found objects, your own little raps and jam sessions, jug-blowing music, kazoos, whistles, harmonicas, flutes, tell me what you think of me, sarcastic remarks, business meetings, conferences, prisons and jails, Hare Krishna chanting, seagulls, tugboats, paddlewheel boats, cruise ships, motorboats, sounds of fishing, clamming, and oystering, hunting sounds, guns, rifle ranges, helicopters, elevators, 78 RPM records, wire recordings, discarded tapes and CDs found on the street, dumpster-diving sounds, sounds of landfills and dumps, sounds from ancient Troy, sounds of surgery, amputations, guillotinings, beheadings, drawing and quartering, torture sounds, sounds of deviant practices, rubber bands, sex toys, the most boring sound ever, the most exciting sound ever, the most annoying sound ever, recite your grocery list, sounds of model trains, sounds of hammers, saws, crowbars, and other tools, crows, owls, birdsongs, cats, dogs, elephants, lions, coyotes, bears, wolves, cockfights, turkey gobbling, pigs grunting, mass suicides, archaeological digs, beer-drinking songs, sea shanties, kung fu fighting, karate chops, samurai swords clanging, graveyard sounds, skulls and bones rattling, interviews with vampires, Goths, Metal Kids, politicians, nursing home residents, street vendors, prophets, mystics, gurus, shamans, etc.
This project is in no way connected or affiliated with the Catholic Church or any other religious or political institution, such as the Masons or the U.S. government.
The Automatic Confessional project started at 12:00 PM on Wednesday, August 19, 2009.