Phone booths are iconic, in their own way. Why else would one be able to transform mild-mannered Clark Kent into Superman? Why else would college students try to set a world record, cramming themselves into one?
In the 2003 movie Phonebooth, a New York publicist picks up a ringing receiver in a phone booth and is told that if he hangs up, he'll be killed. Phone booths present a strange sort of space: private, but public at the same time. It would seem to provide safety, but as the movie demostrates, that security is mostly illusory.
Sadly, we know the phone booth's days are numbered. First their design was truncated: half-booths are what you mostly find nowadays. Unlike their full-length predecessors, they allude to the iconography of privacy and protection without even attempting to actually provide those things.
These days phone booths are just as likely to serve as convenient bicycle parking, or as canvas to a grafitti artist, as to aid in the placing of an actual phone call. The handwriting is clearly on the wall that soon, one day, the phone booth will be entirely obsolete. And it will disappear.
Now is an interesting time to watch them- these accidental sculptures- to note where we can still find them, what shape they are in, who- if anyone- still uses them.
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