Wednesday, 29 February 2012

It's a bird! It's a plane! ...It's gone.

We have just recieved word from artist Sheila Butler that upon last look at the booths this afternoon located at Bloor and Dundas W, Clark Kent and Superman are no longer there!

Who has made off with these fantasic pieces? An art enthusiast? A Superman fan? Lois Lane? Maybe we will never know.

For those that missed it, check out our post on yesterday's installation.

Pop Phreak: The TARDIS - Time Machines, Part 2

“Do you wanna come with me? 'Cause if you do then I should warn you, you're gonna see all sorts of things. Ghosts from the past; Aliens from the future; the day the Earth died in a ball of flame; It won't be quiet, it won't be safe, and it won't be calm. But I'll tell you what it will be: the trip of a lifetime.” – The Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston)

Okay, okay, I know the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) from the BBC scifi series Doctor Who isn’t exactly modeled on a phone booth but rather a British police box.  It should be noted that there is a phone in these police box that can be accessed from the outside for the public to use to contact the police and, from what I’m told on Wikipedia, the inside is like a mini-police station.

The magic of the TARDIS, other than being a time travelling spaceship, is that although the outside is a plain police box, the inside is a spawling estate with an unbelievable amount of rooms.  Supposedly, the word "TARDIS" is now used to describe anything that seems to be bigger on the inside than on the outside.  I wish I could use it to describe my apartment.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Sheila Butler reveals Clark Kent's transformation into Superman

This morning Sheila Butler revealed the superhero's transformation from a regular guy on the street to a man of drama and intrigue, charged with saving us from another dreary wintery grey day on Toronto’s northeast corner of Dundas and Bloor Street West, at the PharmaPlus. The intersection is actually dynamic and busy, with people heading into the subway to the west or to art school to the south, or shopping and strolling. Really, it was fantastic to see how the site resonated with passerby's, many taking out their cellphones from their pockets and purses and school bags to take photos of/with Superman.
The reveal isn't staying past this work week, so I hope you have a chance to see it live and send us your own photo or text.
Sheila has this to say about her installation:
In the days when telephone booths existed as small islands of privacy on busy North American streets, Clark Kent, the mild-mannered reporter, often took advantage of this private space to effect the change of clothing that transformed him into Superman, the mighty man-of-steel, the heroic crime fighter. Now, in 2012, many of the phone booths are gone, but the magic transformation of Superman remains vivid in the collective imagination of contemporary culture. Superman’s former changing room links the relative disappearance of the phone booth to our changed perceptions of public and personal spaces. provides me with the aesthetic opportunity to stage the transformational coming and going of the ongoing legend of Clark Kent and Superman in a now transformed social context.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Hive is MIA

Hitoko reports from Hamilton that as of February 22, Hive has gone MIA. She has announced the end of the install on her facebook page and blog.

Hitoko says, "Well, it was up almost a week, so that's pretty good."

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Pay phone interventions: New York

Today the Atlantic posted an interview with John Locke who has decided to make pop-up libraries out of Manhattan pay phones.  He's created custom shelving to fit nicely into these phone shelters and stocked them with books, inviting any passerby to borrow or even stock with something from their own shelf.

About his idea, Locke says in the article, "The ubiquity of phone booths is interesting because they are completely obsolete, unevenly distributed in outlying neighborhoods and they carry a strong sense of nostalgia with me. They've already evolved from their original function as person-to-person communication technology into their second iteration as pedestrian-scaled billboards. I wanted to see if there is a third option in that, yes, they get our eyes for advertising dollars, but they can also give value back to a neighborhood. I was most interested in turning what is perceived as an urban liability into an opportunity."

I'm not sure that I agree that the phone booth is obsolete just yet.  I know I can get forgetful when it comes to charging my cell phone and still carry some emergency change in case my phone is dead and I need to call for a cab or my partner to come pick me up.  And hey, I still know a handful of people who are still holding strong to not getting wired (honest!). Nevermind that I'm sure there are many people for whom a cell phone is still too expensive.

Regardless, I love his idea of seeing these spaces as an opportunity to engage the public and re-invent public furniture as a public library no less!  Super cool.

For more on this project and some pictures of the mini-libraries themselves, check out the link to the article above.

Many thanks to Chris Hardwick for pointing us to this article.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Big Man by Cathi Bond

Parliament St & Gerrard St; photo credit: Liis Toliao

We called him Big Man. Everyone was afraid of him, partly because he was over six feet tall, but mostly because when he was drinking he turned mean. Right now Big Man was hammered, staggering around the parkette at Gerrard and Parliament, having an argument with an invisible enemy, somebody who lived in his mind. I hid in an alley waiting on Charlene who was crammed in the phone booth trying to talk a friend into letting us crash. Ever since Cope got sent up we’d been on the run. Charlene had a green garbage bag in one hand and the receiver in the other. She had everything she owned in that bag. When I first came to Toronto I had my mother’s monogrammed Samsonite suitcase. Now I had a garbage bag too.
My forehead was hot. I didn’t need a thermometer to know the fever was high. Tilting my head back, I caught the cool water on my cheeks. Steady drizzle threatened to turn into a full out summer storm. There was a loud smash. Big Man had thrown his bottle into the centre of an empty fountain. Fury spent and booze gone, Big Man collapsed on the park bench, flopped over and passed out. Charlene came through the pay phone doors, shaking her head. That meant her friend wouldn’t take us in. We had nowhere to go and it was only a question of time before Hermann found me and killed me.
“Maybe Lily will lend me some money,” I said. It was my last chance.

This is the second excerpt to appear on from NightTown, a coming of age novel by Cathi Bond about the mean streets of Toronto during the 1970s. This scene happens around Parliament and Gerrard Streets. Cathi's selections in their entirety will link three distinct neighbourhood booths that
stand as tactile pieces of physical memory from a day when drug deals frequently went down over public phones.

Saturday, 18 February 2012 gives thanks

I am happy to get some time to write about the diverse, perverse and brilliant works installed and written for by these great folks. I would like to thank Tightrope Books and the Ontario Arts Council for supporting me with a Writers' Reserve grant - the Ontario Arts Council is an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Liis and I also thank the Telephone Booth Gallery for taking on a exhibition with us slated for June and for sending out a press release today about some of the current and upcoming installations.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Hive by Hitoko Okada

Busy making hive and home, displaced bees gentrified out of natural habitat, occupy a telephone booth at an intersection of urban sprawl. A passer- by stops to make a call. The bees hear a voice coming from the receiver, “Hey honey, I’m home”.

Hitoko installed today in Hamilton. Planning to keep it up to the end of the month. Hitoko has written about this piece on her blog, describing it as a big beret for the booth.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Faith by Barry Callaghan

Queen St W & St Patrick's; photo credit: Liis Toliao

She had a habit of falling in love with men in hotel rooms. In the deadly nightshade hours. She said, snapping a wooden match head with her thumb and lighting up a soft-pack Camel, unfiltered, that for each and every lover (her favourite was a man who sang to her like Larry Parks singing in the movies like he was Al Jolson singing Mammie in black face) she always wrote her name for the night in lipstick on the hotel bathroom mirror: Grace Kelly. Becoming Grace, my mother said, was actually as close to despair, to suicide, as she could get. She said she had countless times tried to kill herself. "But the awful thing is," as she blew a smoke ring, and another, smaller, and another, even smaller but still perfect, "Grace can never die. Not so long as there is a God."

This short story chooses the Rex Hotel for its location. One of three short stories offered by Barry Callaghan, for two nearby booths hanging awkwardly on a wall. Reminiscent of a film noir, it conveys danger and romance.

Flower Arrangements by Julie Voyce

There was a nagging temptation to make a couple of R.I.P crosses. Why tempt fate? The two phone booths will still be there, in front of the LBCO: Sturdy landline back-ups that ooze accountability. So when that sleek sexy jewel of a mobile konks out, when that thoughtful
beau needs to check the wine with their sweetheart- our intrepid phones will be ready, draped in plexi wraps, each one sporting a lovely fascinator.

Throughout February, Julie Voyce is maintaining sets of flower arrangements, or fascinators, handcrafted by her and set atop the telephones at two booths at Queens Quay East and Freeland. The installation is a romantic gesture for Valentine's Day, and a heart felt acknowledgment all month long of the liquor store nearby...

Julie has this to say about the experience of installing her fascinators in a booth:

The shipping tape didn’t grip. Both fascinators can be tipped off their box phone heads with one gust of wind. Now, no worries about any damage. When Paola informed me that Bell had not been asked for permission, I was all in! Guerrilla Intervention! Bring it on! And then the sobering thought of a large corporation suing and all of us left permanently broke. Is copyright limited to logos or does it extend to the whole booth? What a cold shower. Installation particulars have been tweaked. I chickened out.

At check in on week two, Julie has reported one fascinator missing, with two pennies in its place. Thus this week there are 3 fascinators: two in one booth and one in the other booth, along with two pennies.