In 2000, the MIT Media Lab and The Kitchen, New York commissioned JD Beltran to create a sound and video self-portrait. Her concept was Telephone Story, a self-portrait as told through telephone messages she had received and collected over the preceding several years.
The interface was a large glass wall, approximately 6' wide by 4' high, behind which was rear-projected video. The wall was fitted with special sensors to detect sound frequencies of knocking or tapping. The interface image featured a close-up of Beltran’s desk and library; on the desk were tools, her laptop computer, photos, and correspondence from her mother. Each object represented a personal relationship or set of relationships. When the viewer knocked or tapped on an object, the object would appear to dissolve, and a set of telephone messages would begin playing along with a companion video. For example, knocking or tapping on a letter from Beltran's mother would bring up a set of telephone messages received from her, along with a companion video. While the video/audio played, the viewer could continue interacting with the glass surface by knocking; an image of the person speaking would suddenly appear at the spot where they tapped - the image would spin slowly, then float off and disappear.
Telephone Story traveled to venues throughout the country, with screenings and exhibitions at The Kitchen, NYC, The Beall Center for Art and Technology, University of California, Irvine, and San Francisco Camerawork. Another interactive version of this piece was recreated and updated for exhibition at the 2007 Ingenuity Festival in Cleveland, Ohio, in July 2007.