Sneak Peek! New Pay Phone Series:
Pay Phones. They were everywhere when you needed them. The light in the dark night after the concert when you needed a ride. We could stay in touch while away from home. Hunks of metal on walls, in booths, singles, ten in a row. Privacy. Anonymity. Pay per use, no debts. The good, the bad. An occasional source of spare change for the downtrodden. Shelter from the storm. Frantic calls on movie screens. Heists planned, cabs called, ransom demanded, plans made, drugs sold, romance blossomed, interviews scheduled. Michael J. Fox famously used one as his home number to keep in touch with producers and agents. I used one regularly for weeks when I first moved to Toronto in 1999, from the lobby of the Backpackers hostel. I used one across the street from my first real apartment at the Heartbreak Hotel on Queen. There is a special place in everyone’s heart for the pay phone – like it or not… they were there when we needed them. We paid them back for their loyalty with progress – we created a hand held, carry around device the size of a thermos that looked like it ran on gasoline. It was 1973 and hand held devices had been on the minds of innovators for some time, but had now found itself closer to what would take almost 30 years to become the future of communication. Now, greatly reduced in numbers, the pay phones sit patiently waiting to be uprooted from under use or damaged through abuse. They are among the last of one of the most important technological advances in recent human history – the shared personal telephone for anybody who could spare a coin.
This work will be presented publicly for the first time at The Artist Project Toronto 2015.