Tuesday, April 14, 2015

sensory map of an imaginary pneumatic tube system

I have been wondering what a map of an imaginary pneumatic tube system, for a fantastical city of the past, present or future might look like ... or smell like ... or taste like ... or sound like ... For why should maps be restricted to beautiful lines and pictures?

I am inspired by the taste map of the London underground, created by James Wannerton of Blackpool in the UK. Wannerton has synaesthesia, a condition which means that the senses become intermingled in interesting and sometimes disturbing ways. For Wannerton, it means that he can taste words. His map is filled with tube stops that he has tasted, from cold Horlicks and crisp sandwiches to coal dust and burned rubber. What would pneumatic tube stops taste like? In Christchurch, where pneumatic tubes transport burgers and fries from the kitchen to hungry diners, they might be rather tasty. In the hospital it might be a bit different! Imagine a network that transported all different kinds of materials at the same time: burgers through one line, letters through another.

I am inspired too by Kate McLean's smell maps. In Paris, letters sent by pneumatic tube could be scented by perfume, the scent lingering in the little capsules. On Roosevelt Island however, it is garbage which moves through the tubes, leaving a lot less pleasant smell. Further inspiration can be found in the many sound maps online. Sounds could be recorded of landing and take-off, or rumbling journeys and expressions of delight or dismay at the contents of capsules, such as those that I have uploaded onto SoundCloud.

I am having lots of fun imagining all the sensory stops on my fantastical map. What would your imaginary pneumatic map sound, smell, feel, taste and look like?

For more about pneumatic tube maps, see my series of blogposts in 2010 and 2011.

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