Frank Heath, American, born 1982. The Hollow Coin, 2016. 12:25 minutes. Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.

The Hollow Coin

October 1, 2021 - October 31, 2021

Media Arts Gallery

The Hollow Coin explores roles of authority in public space and the intersection of personal and historical narratives. The video combines documentary footage of New York City’s rapidly disappearing network of payphones with audio of a covertly recorded telephone exchange between an actor and an unknowing bystander. In the surreptitiously captured conversation, an attempted “information leak” is infused with an absurd story and a historical anecdote. The work’s title refers to a Soviet spy who was apprehended in 1953 after mistakenly paying his newspaper delivery boy with a hollow coin that contained a microfilm of an encrypted message. Throughout the video a parallel sequence of events reveals that images from the video itself have been stored on an SD card concealed within a hollow coin and inserted into the payphone from which the call was made.