Athens, Greece. Ever since the crisis set in, an exploding body of graffiti, marker writings, flyers and stickers has been crawling allover the city’s surfaces. One of the highly frequented places, as we found, is the eye-catching number of pay-phone booths left standing regardless of being defunct or vandalized. As telephony hops onto private mobile networks we observe how the booths recycled by the use of scratch, paste and pen. Parts of the withering public phone infrastructure become quizzical nodes of these new anarchic networks.
In their freshly assigned role, the phone−booths re−enter the city’s communication channels. They quote, from URLs of conspiracy theory videos to tags by local hooligans, all mingling with signs indecipherable (for most readers), with scrawls and smudges, and private messages, from romantic confessions to sexual services offered with names and mobile phone numbers. 69 is the prefix for commercial mobile networks in Greece which all work with real name bound accounts.
To get a closer look at these flows of messages, we documented phone−booths in various parts of the city. The result is a series of over 800 photographs, which, by their sheer number, asked for some structure to be accessible. Using keywords, we arranged them by categories, into galleries at geolocations on openstreetmaps. We have come to regard most of the ones of sexual nature as advertisements for the simple reason of the frequency of their re−occurrence and frequency of updates allover the city. A frequency that even a most frantic wrath would fall short of to write, if the motivation was of a personal nature
Let’s pause for the dilemma of motivations here: Are they indeed advertisements or are they meant to be outing people with their names and numbers, in a form of hate speech?
Since the numbers are mostly coupled to male names, we looked at legal aspects of male prostitution. There are contradictions concerning male sexwork in Greek law which make the legality of male sexwork unclear. This may very well contribute to the reasons for this thread of handwritten phenomena, next to the difficult to imagine levels of poverty and exposedness. http://www2.keelpno.gr/blog/?p=4934&lang=en
69.numbers.suck presents the documentation and our findings as offline maps. To protect the writers and their characters as best as we could we do not expose it online as a Google map gallery and we took the following steps.
We present the 69 database only offline to lessen exposure to data mining or the scope of doxing. We serve 69.numbers.suck, locally, from an encrypted and modified wifi router that is toned down in range to limit wifi reception to the exhibition area.
To have a recourse to the rule of law, even if weak, we copyrighted the database and the images to discourage unwanted reuse. The landing page also asks all visitors to observe the issue.
The request reads: “69.numbers.suck” is presented as an offline collection to keep a measure of protection from data crunchers. BrowserBased Group kindly requests you to refrain from reproducing and putting online any of this material! Further, the image files, the database and the resulting tracks are there for the sole purpose of consideration. Any data extraction, disclosure, dissemination or copying of content is prohibited without the authors’ prior consent!
69.numbers.suck is a subjective overview and in no way is it all encompassing.
Alex Zakkas, Joubin Zargarbashi, rad0van misovic, Zsolt Mesterhazy