“A Very, Very Long Cat”


Samuel Morse’s technology might be a relic, but the etymological basis of telegraphy still obtains (from the Greek, it literally means “writing from afar”). Indeed, if anything, one can—as “A Very, Very Long Cat” did—argue that, specific hardware of dots and dashes aside, ideas of transfer are now omnipresent, shaped by e-mail, social networks, and other technological and cultural shifts. Speaking of the proliferation of radio in his own time, Albert Einstein described communication devoid of physical support: “You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: You send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.” Taking this quip as the basis for the show’s title, Wallspace’s Jane Hait brought together

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the April 2010 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.