pneumatic dispatch


Pneumatic tubes systems propel objects through a network of tubes. The force of a vacuum or compressed air juts the object through. When pneumatic tubes first came into use in the 19th century, they symbolized technological progress and it was imagined that they would be common in the future. One can see them as precursors to our subway systems and even the internet.

A network of pneumatic tunnels used to transport letters throughout Manhattan. Above ground no one could see that just below the pavement money and packages were flying from place to place, exchanging hands. Later, because of their use by governments and large businesses, they began to symbolize bureaucracy. In George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, pneumatic tubes in the Ministry of Truth deliver newspapers to Winston’s desk containing articles to be “rectified”. The movie Brazil, which has similar themes, also used tubes (as well as other by 1985 anachronistic-seeming technologies) to evoke the stagnation of bureaucracy.

I am creating a video sculpture made out of pipes. The pipes are spewing forth economic information from business sections of the leading newspapers. The piece utilizes projections of images from Wall Street and the bailout protests. The result is a chaotic whirlwind of flying papers and video projections jutting out of a pipe, a comment on the misinformation that resulted in our current economic crisis.

The piece will be a pneumatic dispatch about the current state of affairs and economic meltdown. It will be a comment on progress and bureaucracy. It will be timely and relevant but have an absurd quality like a Jules Vernes novel.



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