Public telephones and public space culture

URBAN TRACES - TELEPHONE is a project I recently stumbled acrosss, which examines public phones in different countries. Alina Tudor & Răzvan Neagoe sees public phones as a interesting sign of daily urban life that reveal the relationship between certain cultures and public space:

"We start up from the idea that the identity cannot be anything else but the object of a horizontal analysis and can’t be simply defined as an urban artefact. It represents a cultural sign as long as the virulent changes affecting all the social structures register as a natural answer a form of resistance over the all these mutations.

TEL. continues the series of unconventional spaces as part of the Urban Traces project. Following the interactive “Up in the flat there’s a house” and “Courier” projects, this one brings in front a small but… sizeable space, which is ignored. We have chosen the public phone because it is getting sick of daily urban life syndrome. It has become a place for passers by to have rest, a shelter to hide from the rain… it is vandalised and almost none of the phone booths has the door. This project is a warning sign regarding the collective indifference that is representative for big cities."

An example from this project:

This project is also part of a "Bank of images", that is to say a collection of public telephones from different countries and regions of the world:

"The Bank of images project has the intention to collect a series of photographs of public phones searching to offer them a new identity. Images that are representing different telephones and phone booths used accordingly to any other destination besides their primary one, but also the public phones which are placed in different contexts and thus acquiring a double sense in relation to that place are expected."

Why do I blog this? Public telephone (with or without phones) is definitely a urban signal I am always looking at when visiting a city. A topic we covered in Sliding Friction as well. What I find intriguing in that project is the idea of thinking how they can reveal the state of public space cultures in modern societies. Other public services can also be relevant to observe, such as public toilets, benches or traffic lights.