Saturday, 31 March 2012

Operators are standing by...

Photo credit: Liis Toliao

"Tired of waiting weeks between sessions with your analyst, therapist, counsellor, homeopath, or wise veterinarian uncle? Always on the go? You are in luck!"  Starting tomorrow, another fantastic tel-talker, Cleen, will be installing Pay Phone Therapy. Intrigued? We are!

Check back on April 1st for an update!

Friday, 23 March 2012

This shouldn't be so difficult... but we need to talk some more

Anthea and Rob have extended We Need to Talk to April 1st. Call in numbers at each booth are encouraging messaged conversation between the financial district and the former headquarters of the Occupy Toronto movement. The messages are being recorded and will be played back at the gallery show in June.

Perhaps you too had trouble discerning what booth was in the richy-rich neighbourhood from the photos in the previous post? As Anthea has pointed out, the booth does not necessarily discern economic inequalities. And the neighbourhoods in which each booth is located, well, the division between rich and poor is not so clear cut. Do you agree?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

We Need To Talk... some more... Talk to Bay Street.... Talk To Shuter Street

Until March 21, Anthea Foyer and Rob King are "operating" two booths by encouraging passerby's to leave a message from one booth to a second booth located in an area totally unlike the first. Drop by, leave a recorded message. Let's see what sort of conversation develops. Images by Anthea and Rob.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Pay phone interventions: Austin TX

Image courtesy of the Pay Phone Revival Project (thanks!)
Over in Austin, Texas it seems the pay phone's day has come and gone.  The Pay Phone Revival Project invites artists to submit ideas for art interventions in abandoned pay phone booths.  That's right, abandoned.  According to their Kickstarter campaign their mission is to "restore function and communicative potential to abandoned payphone booths while also creating meaningful interactions between pedestrians and their everyday surroundings."

Some inspiring stuff varying from transforming these structures into a mailboxes where strangers can exchange letters to an audio installation that uses bits of old telephone as if it were speaking from the dead.

We think it's pretty cool what they are up to south of the border and are glad to see we're not the only ones who think phone booths need a little artsy love.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

We Need To Talk by Anthea Foyer and Rob King

photo credit: Liis Toliao's open invitation to seek out "chat booths" and join in on the conversation: Anthea Foyer and Rob King will be managing an installation from March 14 to 21 at two booths that were chosen for their iconic neighbourhood locations. Here's a description of what they will be doing:

Our society is rapidly becoming more and more divided.  Right vs Left.  Rich vs Poor.  Urban vs Suburban.  And so on and so on...  We believe that a little conversation, a little understanding, and a little sharing can go a long way.  We would like to give two neighbourhoods a voice with which to engage each other in a long conversation.  Specifically we want to connect the Bay Street crowd with Jarvis and Queen.  At each site we will create a warm and cosy environment in each of these phone booths.  When passerby pick up with phone and dial the provided number they will be greeted by a message recorded in the other phone booth. After listening to the message they will be prompted to record a response. This response will then be used as the greeting message in the other neighbourhood's phone booth.  In a way, one resident at a time will provide a voice for their neighbourhood, and create a dialog between the two very different areas.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Ossington and Dundas by Hal Niedzviecki

Ossington and Dundas, photo credit: Liis Toliao
Below is an excerpt from a short fiction called Ossington and Dundas by Hal Niedzviecki, who has brought together a series of conversations and characters in his work. Peter and Allen, below, help construct a multi-dimensional view of the street corner. A really complex understanding of this very specific urban setting is constructed with their observations and simple sounding dialogue. 

There are two banks?
There are two banks. They are across the street from each other. 
Is there a line up?
A line up?
In the bank?
I don’t know. I can’t see that from here. That’s what I mean about the payphone. You’re rooted where you are. You can’t just cross the street and carry on your conversation. You have to stay in place. You’re attached.
Do you feel attached Peter?
Why else would I keep calling Allen?
I don’t know Peter. Why do you keep calling?
Because I’m your eyes and ears.
What else? What else are you seeing.
People look at you as they walk by. They just glance at you. They’re thinking: Where’s his cell phone? They’re thinking: What’s the deal with that guy using the pay phone? 
Who’s looking at you?
Two girls just walked by. They were 13 or 14 or something like that. They looked at me and then they giggled. They were both holding cell phones and texting their boyfriends at the same time. They’ve probably never used a payphone in their lives.
Probably not. 
Have you ever used a payphone?
Not in a long time Peter.
You should get out more.
Are you going to drink the wine with Raj?
He’s coming over tonight. I was going to make dinner but now I think I’ll just order in.
So it’s a date?
I think we’re past that stage. I think we’re dong something else now. 
What are you doing?
Whatever comes after dating.
Does Raj know you like to call strange men on payphones?
Why? Are you going to tell him?
I wouldn’t do that Peter.
I know you wouldn’t Allan.
What’s happening on the corner now Peter, what’s happening at Ossington and Dundas?
Not much, really. It’s an ugly corner. Oh here comes the bus. People are getting on the bus.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Call ended: Flower Arrangements by Julie Voyce

February 2nd: Install day.
If you look closely, just behind the telephone booths stands the artist herself!
Queens Quay & Freeland, photo credit: Liis Toliao

Install day: I met Julie on a brisk and clear Feburary morning just as the city was just waking up.  Handfuls of commuters were shuffling along this stretch of the Queens Quay where construction vechilcles seem to grow out of the ground.

The delicate looking flower arrangements were already in place, instantly making these plastic boxes brighter and, dare I say, inviting?  One in each booth sitting atop the telephones.  If I was making a call on one side and someone was in the other, it might almost feel like we were sitting across a table with each other over dinner, these small arrangments like a centrepiece between us.

Passers-by looked quizzically at us.  No one stopped to ask what we were doing.  Below, Julie's observations of the installation through the month of February:

Julie's Report, Week 1: One facinator missing replaced by two pennies. Two facinators added back in for a total of three (two in one booth and one in the other... along with two pennies).  Extra flowers for the weekend preceeding Valentine's.

Julie's Report, Week 2:  The flowers and pennies are gone from the south booth and in the north booth, both flower facinators had been cruelly knocked to the ground only to be replaced by an empty can of beer and some litter!

Julie's Report, Week 3: All of the flower arrangements are gone.  No pennies or beer cans either. 

End communication.