Art and Telecommunications

Art 511 Fall 2003 || SFSU

Low Tech Communications Project

Preparing the Pully and String Line Sending a Message

The Task

Develop a communication technology capable of sending messages at a distance of 600 yards and more, beyond the range of yelled human voice. The system cannot rely on any electronic components.

The System: Suspended Pully Line

Two pullys supported a string line across the quad several feet above peoples heads, connecting the front of the library to the steps at the front of the gym. Each pully was held by hand and the line was kept taught. Messages were written on note cards that were clipped to the string line. The string circulated the message by pulling on the opposite side of the string.

The Result

Setting the system up was fast and easy. The message was successfully sent over the heads of SFSU students walking across the quad.

System Analysis


  • Accuracy: System uses existing written languages
  • Salience: Any written text or image message could be sent
  • Noise: No interference with suspended line


  • Efficiency: Physically strenuous to hold and pull the string line
  • Speed: Requires about the same time to walk across the quad

by Andy and Kay