INDIVIDUAL: Employee of Qwest corporate headquarters
GROUP SIZE: 13
NATURE OF GROUP: A crack squadron of minimalist sculptors
INCIDENCE OF SOCIOMETRY: Qwest Vex
Qwest Vex was originally reported by The Westword and misappropriated by The Egotist. is originally published this report on a tri-fold display at Sociometry Fair 2008 in Chicago along with the video at the bottom by agent Vin Comparetto.
On Monday May 19, 8:50 am, a crack-squadron of 13 agents of the international pranktivist collective Institute of Sociometry (IS) donated an unsolicited “minimalist sculpture” comprised of 576 phone books to the Qwest corporate headquarters at 1801 California Street in the form of a giant phone book. The donated minimalist sculpture “reflected its architectural surroundings and provided an ergonomically designed, functional apparatus for employees to interact with while sitting and enjoying their lunch break.”
In the course of a year, a typical Denver Metro household will receive each of the following: a 2.5 inch thick White Dex, a 2.5 inch thick Yellow Dex, possibly a 1.5 inch thick Yellow Dex A-L, a 1.5 inch thick Yellow Dex M-Z, a smaller format Dex Plus. Also, depending on demographics, the household may receive a combined (white and yellow) suburban directory or Dex En Espanol.
IS agents spent six months amassing 23 separate varieties of phone books in Denver and the west suburbs. These publications had been either left unclaimed for at least one month at apartment or office buildings, or were used by customers for a year and thrown out with the arrival of the 2008 book. Six variants were published by Yellow Pages, Yellow Book, or Verison. Twenty two variants were published by Dex, a division of publisher RR Donnely, which has a contract with the telecommunications company to produce and deliver the phone book.
Prior to assembling the sculpture in the Qwest corporate plaza, IS agents were instructed by squadron leaders to “avoid eye contact with bystanders at all times” and to answer all inquiries from the company’s security with the phrase “I’m just supposed to drop these off.” When the IS squadron began briskly piling the books in front of the Qwest building, they were indeed approached by security and had the following off-script exchange:
Qwest: (sheepishly) So how you guys doing?
IS: (tersely) Alright.
Qwest: So uh… what’s the plan this morning? You guys when your done are you going to clean out everything?
IS: (lying) Uh hugh…
Qwest: That’s fine…
At this point the Qwest personnel walked away with their hands in their pockets, going so far as to actually kick a pebble in a gesture of defeat.
Photo agent Rhy Jouett
After the IS sculptors completed their work and melted away into the Monday morning pedestrian traffic, a man identifying himself as public relations personnel exited from the building and immediately sought out our IS agent who was posing as an “independent photographer.” The agent was asked if he was “from the paper.” When queried, Qwest public relations told our agent that they would surely recycle the books.
Indeed, within ten minutes a small army of Qwest maintenance employees immediately emerged from the towering edifice with large janitorial bins adorned with freshly laser-printed recycle symbols scotch-taped on them. They swiftly disassembled the sculpture and scurried back into the building. IS officially condemns the callous removal of their donated minimalist sculpture. It points to a flagrant disregard for even the basest level of art appreciation!
Watch a time-lapse of the incident!
Video agent Vin Comparetto
But while unanticipated by IS, Qwest’s actions indicate a desire to be a responsible corporate citizen by encouraging the use of their plaza as a convenient, centrally located, recycling depository for unwanted phone books.