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Transcontinental 1860 (2017)


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This project is a single channel video installation that incorporates a peepbox viewing architecture through which to watch the video.
The video itself is an illustration of the route of the transcontinental Pony Express – a long distance communications network that prefigured the telegraph and the railroad in 1860. Acknowledging the growing necessity of rapid information technology in the mid 19th century, this project takes a trans-media perspective of long-distance communication as the looped video intersplices a hand painted and hand animated moving panorama of the route of the Express, with hand drawn text taken from newspapers of the time presented as silent cinema style inter-titles.

This project brings together ideas of mapping, recording and imagining territories as a form of possessive exercise, historically aligning communications systems and their attendant technologies with the exercise of cultural and political power.

The video is viewed through a hand-made peepbox device. This peepbox provides a miniature viewing environment that depicts both the different communications technologies that were in operation at the same time as the Express (stagecoach, telegraph, railroad) as well as well-known symbols of European-American westward expansion, such as the log cabin and the Conestoga wagon. This device adds contextual and physical depth to the experience of the video, presenting the Pony Express not as a unique and individual medium, but as part of a system of technological and cultural technologies that were networked together.

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