The goldfish might have gotten in these Japanese phone booths against their will, so the title is a bit misleading, but this does not mean that these new street aquariums are not stunning.
To us, geeks, phone booths will always have a special place in our hearts. Well, maybe not all of them, just a particular blue box that’s erm… bigger on the inside. To the rest of the world, however, phone booths are primitive structures with no use, whatsoever, since everyone and his brother owns now at least one cell phone. I assume that in a few years, phone booths will be in the same category as floppy disks, VHS and audio tapes, Walkman players and cartridge gaming consoles.
While phone booths are still around, though, functional or not, they become the subjects of artworks, in many parts of the world. Not long ago, 100 artists redesigned 100 phone booths from Sao Paolo, Brazil, in a very unique manner. It is now the time of a five-member Kansai-based art collective (even though on their Facebook cover photo there seem to be six members) to prove their skills and creativity by turning phone booths into aquariums filled with goldfish.
Kingyobu, as this art collective is called, is an approximate translation for “goldfish club” in Japanese, so you can tell right away who will be the protagonists in these guys’ projects. The five Kyoto University of Art and Design students first presented their innovative fish tanks at an art festival in 2011, but this year they decided to go public in Osaka, where they have transformed several phone booths. In their country, goldfish are a symbol of prosperity and happiness, so it comes to no surprise that a lot of passer-by stopped to admire the repurposed booths. I admit that these goldfish tanks represent a real eye candy even without the symbolic significance.
As a witty commenter put it: “This is why Clark Kent never visits Japan. He has no place to change into his costume. :0) You can probably get away with putting it at Japan and other cooler places. I don’t think that the fish will survive under direct contact of sunlight at tropical countries.” He talks about two aspects that are indeed problematic. First of all, I wonder if in next year’s Man of Steel, Clark Kent will still use phone booths to turn into Superman. The makers of this movie might decide to adapt the action to our times, but that would take away some of this hero’s magic. Secondly, the climatic conditions of Japan made this possible, but in countries with a hotter weather, keeping the goldfish in direct sunlight would have triggered PETA’s alarm right away.