In a world stuffed to the gunnels with on-demand content, the concept of tuning into a specific radio frequency may already seem foreign to some of our younger readers. Eyeball! Cards, The Art of British CB Radio Culture, the latest offering from brilliant Shoreditch-based publishers Four Corners Books opens our eyes to the strange, humorous subculture of “CB enthusiasts”.
In case, like us, you need this explained to you, citizens band radio is, or was, interpersonal short-distance radio communication on 40 channels in the 27 MHz band which allowed users to interact for business or personal reasons throughout the 70s and 80s. Like any subculture, the communication strand quickly amassed an eager audience of enthusiasts or “breakers”, who, after talking via the airwaves, would meet face to face. Such interactions left a physical imprint: a mass of “business cards” recalling a paper trail of hidden identities.
Eyeball! Cards, The Art of British CB Radio Culture is written by William Hogan with photographs by former Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize winner David Titlow. The book is published by Four Corners as part of its Irregulars strand which looks at modern British visual history, and designed by graphic designer and art director John Morgan, who needs no introduction.
“This book is the first to document this late 70s and early 80s subculture and presents hundreds of the funniest, strangest and most intriguing Eyeball cards from across the UK,” Four Corners explains. “In addition, photographer David Titlow has taken portraits of some of the breakers who owned the cards, and writer William Hogan has written a lively history of how and why these cards came to exist. The result is a window into an outpouring of creativity that prefigures online identities — social media handles before there was even an internet.”
“These alternate identities are sometimes amusing, occasionally mundane, dark or bawdy, but always personal creations — flotsam from a more innocent analogue world.”