Friday, August 19, 2016

a pneumatic experiment

Paris loves pneumatic tubes. For decades they used to send love letters (and bills) through the vast networks under the city. Today, pneumatic tubes find themselves in all sorts of interesting places, including contemporary art galleries. I had previously missed Shultz's installation in the foyer of Palais de Tokyo, but had no idea I would have a second chance to see some pneumatic tube art in this wonderful gallery on the banks of the Seine.

Wandering through a maze of bizarre settings and videos by the artist Mirka Rottenberg, my dear friend Pamela and I were having great fun with the swishing ponytails and videos of weird pearl and fast food productions. We came then to a room which had some multi-coloured terry towelling dressing gowns, and we sat down to have a look at the scientific apparatus on our right, and a large video on the wall.

What appeared before us was a crazy pneumatic tube experiment. In some unnamed dessert, a single man walked for what seemed like hours, into the dust. He stopped at a point and brought out a pneumatic tube carrier, taking a sample of the dry earth.

He makes the long walk back then to the sampling headquarters, a small hut where a group of men in overalls are gathered. One takes the tube and sends it off in his machine ...

On the other installation screen, above scientific looking equipment, we see where the tube has headed - to a bizarre scientific laboratory where one can only imagine the kinds of work that is going on.

The exhibition is an re-enactment of a series of performances and an installation that was shown at Performa 11 in New York City (you can watch the video here). For this installation, called SEVEN, Mika Rottenberg collaborated with Jon Kessler. Visitors got to wear the multi-coloured robes and possibly participate in the experiment. Actually judging from the photos of the Paris show, from this gallery here, we should have also donned the robes!

Well they say you never know what you are going to find in Paris, but it never ceases to astound me the number of pneumatic tube discoveries to be found there, in the city of air.

Images from exhibition my own.

For my other posts on Paris, see one on the sewer system, museums, the Dreyfus affair and petit bleus

Friday, August 12, 2016

airing the dirty laundry

I visited Stanford University the other week for the first time. I met an inspiring doctor and educator there, Errol Ozdalga, who is part of the Stanford 25 program, as part of my new research. I saw the beautiful eucalyptus trees that reminded me of Australian university campuses. I watched undergraduates play with Virtual Reality sets in the luxurious campus shopping mall.

But what I didn't see unfortunately were those famous Stanford pneumatic tubes.

Nonetheless, I still have an update from the Stanford Medical Centre for you. The hospital is soon to not only transport blood and other clinical samples by pneumatic tube, but also their recycling and laundry too.

More and more of the material products in circulation in hospitals are going behind the walls and in ceilings, rather than on trolleys and carts. I have already written about pneumatic waste disposal systems under cities - whether the Stanford model for pneumatically transporting waste and laundry will now also become the mainstay for hospitals too is yet to be seen.

One thing is for sure though, this airing out of the dirty laundry will certainly will add some extra grit to the next Stanford pneumatic tour!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

postings from Hong Kong

When we went on holidays as a family, we always used to joke that my architect father took more photos of buildings that he did of us. Of course, there were plenty of photos of us all, but now my appreciation of his building shots has taken on a whole new level with this image of a human pneumatic tube system he sent me the other day from a holiday in Hong Kong.