Seeking advice for participatory art piece


I’m an Australian artist currently working with two other artists to create a phone-based version of a participatory art piece which we’ve previously presented in meatspace. None of us have any expertise in this technical area, so we’re having some trouble working out the best service or software to enable us to do what we want to do, and whether it’s possible to do it with an out-of-the-box service along the lines of Aircall or Zoom, or whether we rather need something more customised, perhaps created with Asterisk. Hoping that someone on this forum will be able to advise us!


The meatspace version involved blindfolding participants (members of the public) and bringing them into a dark room, where they were placed in pairs to have a conversation with a stranger they didn’t know and couldn’t see. We (the creators) began and guided these conversations by providing the pairs with questions to stimulate and guide the conversation, (moving from the superficial to the more deep and personal).

So for the phone version, we want participants (members of the public) to be able to call in (call in via a phone number, not via an app) , briefly speak to one of us so we can introduce how it works (being briefly on hold if neccessary), then be connected with another participant who has likewise called in. We then want to be able to drop in and out of that conversation between the two participants periodically, to give them new questions. We would also like the participants to be able to ‘request’ us to drop in to their conversation at any point by pressing a number on their keypad, if they would like to request a new question. Ideally we want to be able to run multiple of these ‘conversation rooms’ at once, with us the creators each moving between two or three of them as necessary.


We initially planned to use Aircall, but found it didn’t have the functionality to connect two inbound callers to each other.
Strangely, the closest functionality we’ve found so far is Zoom’s breakout rooms function. We’re unsure if zoom can do everything we want, such as ‘requesting’ us to drop in to a breakout room via the keypad, and are currently looking into that.
We’ve looked at Asterisk and it looks likely beyond our capabilities to build something with, but we could use it with help from someone more knowledgeable if it seems neccessary.

So, any advice on the best/simplest way to make this work? Can we do it easily with an existing service or do we need to build something custom e.g. with Asterisk? And if the latter, would anyone have any interest/willingness to help us out with that?

Let me know if you need any more clarification on anything!



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