Those Morse Code Flyers Pasted in Neighborhood Phonebooths

Posted on: April 4th, 2013 at 6:30 am by


Aside from Hurricane Sandy, payphones really haven’t seen much action in well over a decade. While still a necessity, the city treats these communication pods as money-makers for ad campaigns; the New Museum treats them as an art exhibit transporting people back to 1993 (“Recalling 1993”); and Rosa Eaton treats them as soapbox for a public statement.

This Orchard Street phone, between Delancey and Rivington, was one of the few in the vicinity that worked during Sandy. So it still commands our attention. In passing the other day, we noticed a computer printout taped above the handset. The juxtaposition of one outdated technology (Morse code) onto another was quite intriguing, inviting us to scan that QR.

The link brings us to the page of artist Rosa Eaton. She explains the “What is Your Location?” flyers in a blog post:

This is Q Code; a Morse Code short hand made up of three letters, which originated in 1909 for the use of the Coast Guard. I found this text when researching Morse and see it as a distillation of all human interaction – trying to work out where others are in relation to ourselves. By placing this text piece in some of the 11,000, mostly unused, telephone booths in New York I seek to draw attention to the basic human need for connectedness and communication.

The text reads as follows:

I acknowledge receipt
Do you acknowledge receipt?
Should I Wait?
I am ready to receive
Are you ready to copy?
The frequency is in use
Is the frequency in use?
My location is
What is your location?

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