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The original Banksy London Phone Booth caused quite a stir during its brief lifespan in 2006. Appearing overnight on a street in Soho, London, this bent and broken British Telecommunications phone booth laid forlornly on its side, axe protruding from its side, blood pooling underneath.
Featured in the Banksy film “Exit Through the Gift Shop”, this sculptural graffiti elicited a myriad of reactions. Londoners divided themselves into two camps: those who appreciated the spirit of the art, and those who decried it as vandalism. British Telecommunications praised this as stunning visual comment on BTs transformation from an old-fashioned telecommunications company into a modern communications services provider. “Perhaps this official” analysis captured Banksy’s meaning in creating the sculpture.
At the same time, 2006 saw the introduction of Facebook beyond college campuses. MySpace topped 75 million users. While these innovations fall under the realm of social media, are they really so social? Facebook, MySpace and other electronic forms of communication allow individuals to hide behind a computer screen, pretending to be that which they are not. Perhaps Banksy was mourning the passage of good old-fashioned human communication when he created his famous sculpture.