Internationally known fine art publisher Kehrer Verlag is set to bring out a photo book that illustrates Bangkok’s status as a city between two phases of existence. Bangkok: Call Waiting will be a collection of photographs of the city’s phone booths – a phenomenon that has disappeared almost entirely in some parts of the world, and looks set to do the same in Bangkok soon. These images show an interesting moment in time: the point at which an obsolete technology is still hanging on, though judging from the number of phone booths without working phones, about to become a thing of the past.
The booths can also be seen as surfaces on which to observe the ephemera of Thai society. Within them and on their glass enclosures lies every possible manifestation of quotidian life – posters and stickers dealing with housing, jobs, sex, food, entertainment, opportunities for education and social advancement, as well as endless tagging by graffiti artists. And politics; during part of this project, the Shutdown Bangkok movement left plenty of evidence in the inscriptions on the phone booths. Outside the encrusted claustrophobic enclosures and visible through the glass, life goes on as usual.
As well as occasionally being used by people wanting to ring home, these phone boxes also serve other functions; they are sometimes used as miniature warehouses for people to store goods. This photo book provides both a fascinating glimpse into Thai society via the medium of its phone booths, and also illustrates the way in which technology is left behind in the ever-changing cityscape. It’s the brainchild of photographer Frank Hallam Day, who is currently attempting to finance it via the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. The book will not only contain subtly striking imagery rich in vibrant metaphor, but also give the purchaser a window into the streets of Thailand’s bustling capital.