Friday, 6 December 2013

Pneumatic time in Paris in the nineteenth century

I just learned of an interesting AHRC-funded project on the use of pneumatic technology in Paris between 1880 and 1927 to convey standard time throughout the city. 

I quote from the minimal blog created for the project so far:
Time was in the air in major nineteenth-century western cities, where an increasing temporal awareness was coupled with a growing demand for precision in time measurement and display. But Paris stood out amongst her contemporaries; time there was indeed in the air, in compressed form, under the ground, surfacing, each minute, in public spaces and private residences to make the clock hand move. Between 1880-1927, time was pumped throughout Paris using a network of pneumatic tubes, which not only took standard time to the city’s public clocks, but also to its citizens’ homes, connecting them to the public time regime.  
This AHRC-funded project, led by Dr Mustafa Dikec (Principal Investigator) and Dr Carlos Lopez Galviz (Postdoctoral Research Assistant), looks into the dynamics and transformation of pneumatic time by reference to four inter-related themes: production, distribution, consumption and representation. Our idea is visually to explore the questions guiding the project through the images contained in each theme (see tabs at the top of his Wordpress blog).

There is a bit more here about Dr Mustafa Dikec.