2012 Uncategorized

The Air Loom

The Air-Loom (or Influencing Machine) is a response to my research on an 18th century psychotic James Tilly Mathews, who believed he was persecuted by what he called an “Air-Loom,” a pneumatic device that could influence his thoughts and world history. I’m particularly interested in his imagined machine, which marked the moment, at the turn of the industrial revolution, when people stopped being possessed by demons and started to be possessed by technology. This object is a piece of a larger project, which might be called a pneumatic history of culture—moments in politics, philosophy, or science when air was either remembered or repressed as a material participant in the unfolding human drama of our shared life on this air-enclosed planet.