Location: Rochester, NY, United States
Life-Lines Throughout the US
This body of work is a companion series to my project “Felicific Calculus: Technology as a Social Marker of Race, Class, & Economics in Rochester, NY,” to demonstrate how many communities throughout the United States are facing the same situation as Rochester. Throughout the United States, many individuals are being left behind by technology, whether that is for communication or Internet access. Our society has become one in which you must have access to these tools to be provided support services and a job, or you are left behind, widening the gap between the lower and middle classes.
Often this outdated technology is also used to label individuals or areas of a community where they can be found as social markers without further knowledge. The individuals I have met who still rely on payphones have all stated the same thing “I hate how people look at me like I am doing something wrong when I am using the payphone.” Those individuals have explained that they are typically calling their families to check in or for support.
Unlike my series in Rochester, I have decided to include individuals in the frame for this series because now I am including the story of the individuals in association with the payphones or simply the location. Including a person in the frame or not raises the question of the economic level of each payphone area for this body of work.
My work aims to raise the following questions, how do we ensure access to basic needs for a sustainable community, such as communication, shelter, and food, without labeling those relying on support?
Once the payphones are gone, how will we communicate in a natural disaster similar to Hurricane Katrina & Sandy?
The payphone may be a symbol of a different era. Still, we cannot forget how we use technology as a social marker and often forget those individuals who cannot keep up with fundamental technological advancements.