featured artist

Eric Kunsman — Life-Lines Throughout the United States

Life-Lines Throughout the United States

This body of work is a companion series to my project, “Felicific Calculus: Technology as a Social Marker of Race, Class, & Economics in Rochester, NY,” to demonstrate how communities throughout the United States are facing the same dire situation. Throughout the United States, many individuals are being left behind by technology, whether that is for communication or Internet access. Our society has become one in which you must have access to these tools to be provided support services and a job, or you are left behind, widening the gap between the lower and middle classes.

Often, this outdated technology is also used to label individuals or areas of a community where they can be found as social markers without further knowledge. The individuals I have met who still rely on payphones have stated, "I hate how people look at me like I am doing something wrong when I am using the payphone.” Those individuals have explained that they are typically calling their families to check in or for support.

My work aims to raise the following questions:

  • How do we ensure access to basic needs for a sustainable community, such as communication, shelter, and food, without labeling those relying on support?
  • Why has the United Kingdom decided to save their iconic payphones, convert them to digital ones, and install other emergency necessities such as defibrillators in the red booths?
  • Once the payphones are gone, how will we communicate in a natural disaster similar to Hurricane Katrina & Sandy?

The payphone may be a symbol of a different era. Still, we must remember how we use technology as a social marker and often forget those individuals who cannot keep up with fundamental technological advancements.


Eric T. Kunsman (b. 1975) was born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He is a photographer and book artist from Rochester, New York. Eric works at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) as an Assistant Professor in the Visual Communications Studies Department at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and is an adjunct professor for the School of Photographic Arts & Sciences.

He also owns Booksmart Studio, a fine art digital printing studio that specializes in numerous techniques and services for photographers and book artists on a collaborative basis. Eric has held 39 solo exhibitions, and his work has been exhibited in over 250 galleries and museums and featured in numerous magazines.

For more information:
Visit: www.erickunsman.com
Read the interview with Eric Kunsman