Innovation Box

Innovation Box [Think Inside The Box] October 2016

Bedford Row, Bloomsbury, London, WC1R 4EB Duration: 3 months

*The K2 is a GRADE II listed telephone box designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, architect of the ex- power stations housingTate Modern & Battersea Power station.

The Intervention

The Innovation Box was intended to continue Platform-7’s technology & society strand of art interventions that began in 2012, investigating whether society shapes technology or vice-versa. The project focus was to be specifically on how people understand the word innovation.

It began with some photos by Heather Agyepong to create a link to the last intervention, Waste.Agency and as an example of where our technology often ends up and to develop a conversation around then waste generated by many of our innovations. The second artwork was a recreated phone book by Dawn Cole to gather people’s stories of telephones and telephone boxes. It was here that the project began to change and became difficult.

The phone book was first damaged and then stolen. Constant urine and other things that happen in many a phone box made the project increasingly difficult and there was no way of knowing when these actions were taking place because the project was unmanned. This not knowing became interesting in itself and led to a number of conversations about public space and its ownership, which in turn led to the final piece of work, exploring the ingenuity of the homeless.

The phone box intervention brought to the fore how many phone kiosks are used by people who find themselves on the streets as a place for storage, to shelter out of the cold and a place to sleep. The creativity required to survive became the direction of the project, and the innovative methods required to make a shelter from found things. The last installation was a work by Shabazz Chapman using found items. In all it lasted less than 4 days before being torn down and discarded in the street. This installation, more than almost at any other P7 intervention, exposed a feeling of vulnerability that goes with leaving something in a public space unprotected. The thought of a person sleeping with such vulnerability struck a very deep cord with a number of artists in the network. The reasons for the different work being destroyed, the urine – there were two other kiosks in the same street, which were not used as a toilet – became a discussion of speculation.

Although several other bits of work were considered for the box it was decided that it was best to let the box return to being just a normal phone box.

The learning from this project has been intense and insightful but not as was initially intended; an outcome in common with all the other P7 interventions.

Articles accompanying the project are on the blog.

Telephone Box kindly provided by BT