Tuesday, July 20, 2010

following a pneumatic capsule

How do you follow a capsule in the pneumatic tube system, during its travels around a hospital in one day?

Two of my favourite academics, Annemarie Mol and Jessica Mesman, talks about the limits of following actors, in reference to actor-network theory and a hospital ethnography:
J had read that she should follow the actor. But after following the medium care neonatologist around for a day, J came home exhausted because the man walked so fast. And what about the pieces of paper that travel from ward to the dispensary? J couldn’t enter the hospital’s postal system with them, for its plastic tubes were big enough for forms, but far too small for human bodies (Mol and Mesman 1996, p422 – 423)
I have been thinking about the challenge of literally following a capsule. There have to be other ways of mapping the life of a capsule as it traverses a hospital system, that do not involve being shrunk to the size of a pathology sample Innerspace style.

In a previous post I referred to a German video where a camera had been sent on an explosive journey through a pneumatic tube system. Perhaps another method may be to attach a GPS tracker to a capsule? Take for example artist Jeremy Wood's 'Traverse me: Warwick campus map for pedestrians'. The intricate GPS drawing is a personalised tour of the university's campus, compiled over 17 days of walking with a GPS device. The map has also been superimposed over photographs of some of the locations Jeremy Wood visited on his travels. Is this one way to draw a day in the life of a pneumatic tube capsule?

Image 89 or is that 68?, originally uploaded by pathlost on Flikr.

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