Monday, March 7, 2011

Ghost Phones

How should we discuss the spaces where public phones once existed but no longer do?

I mean, realistically the point is moot because we wouldn’t need to refer to these spaces. Yet they exist, and they’re all awkward about it, looking exactly like a place where a phone was but isn’t anymore. They’re like tree stumps, these lingering reminders that a once-useful thing stood in a given place. Only tree stumps can actually serve a purpose: You can sit on them, or you can stand on them if you’re giving a speech to woodland creatures. The places-where-phones-once-were, however, don’t do anything aside from remind you that we don’t need public phones anymore and make you feel strangely wistful about bygone now-obsolete technology. If you’re me, they also make you ponder the strangeness of how disconnecting the lines could probably save money yet removing all physical evidence of the phones’ existence would cost money, hence this odd, otherwise unusable space that we have now. The above photo, taken at MOCA, can’t really be used for anything. You can’t sit in the slots, no coat hooks are provided and it hasn’t even been modified into anything artistic or aesthetically pleasing. (What the fuck, MOCA? You of all institutions…) In fact, I can imagine only one reason to preserve these kinda-sorta booths with insufficient privacy panels: to baffle future generations as to what purpose they might have ever served. You know, at the point in the future at which it no longer is common knowledge that people once had to insert physical currency into a public machine in order to make calls. Mark my words. This will happen. And we will feel old.

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