What is a ‘cardboard statue’ and why are they so controversial?
In the summer of 1858, the year before the invention of the electric telegraph, the British Parliament passed a motion to introduce the first commercial electric telegram.
The Telegraph Act, which went into effect in January 1861, provided that no commercial company should “in any manner or in any manner to any extent hinder, obstruct or delay the use or communication of telegrams by the Government of the United Kingdom or by any private company” in England.
That motion led to the creation of the Royal Mail, the first major national postal service in the world.
It was also the first time in history that a commercial company had been charged with the responsibility of transmitting the telegraph signals from one country to another.
That charge became the basis of the British government’s first libel action against an American newspaper.
“When the Telegraph Act was passed, there were a lot of people who were really quite interested in the telegram,” says Mark Withers, a professor of communication at Manchester University.
“It was an opportunity for a private company to get their name on the wire, which would be quite exciting.
They’re in the business of sending telegams, and it was a very powerful way of getting the message across.”
In 1859, the United States Congress passed the Telegrams Act of 1861, which prohibited the sending of any commercial telegraphed messages.
This was followed by a wave of other laws that restricted the sending and receiving of telegraphic messages.
In 1864, the telegames telegraphy and telegraph communications were outlawed.
The telegraphs first attempt to stop the tegrams was a successful one in 1871, when the Federal government sent a telegram warning the United State of a potential uprising.
“What is an ‘underwater’ sculpture?”
Wither and his colleagues decided to see if a new, new kind of underwater sculpture could be made from a water-repellent material, called epoxy, which could be easily cut with a knife and used to seal the teapot or telegraph cable.
The team used epoxy to create an underwater sculpture that was visible from the ocean surface.
“We took a lot from the epoxy and applied it to a canvas,” Wither says.
“You can see it in the bottom of the tank we used, in a very large glass container.”
“You know, if we could make a sculpture out of this epoxy we could do something very similar to what we did with the telexes.
It’s not as easy to get the epoxies from the sea, but it’s very, very easy to make them in the sea.”
They had a lot to go through to make the first underwater sculpture, Wither explains.
First, the team had to find out what the word “underwater” meant in English.
“The dictionary doesn’t have a definition for the word, so we had to ask the person that wrote the dictionary, ‘What does that mean?'”
“They were a little bit surprised and they said, ‘Well, what does that actually mean?'”
They then went to the library to search for any references to “under water,” and found a letter to the editor in 1869 from a professor who said “under” meant “in the water,” so the team decided to take that word seriously.
“I was amazed by the way the dictionary described it,” Wether says.
In the end, the underwater sculpture they made was called a “cavalry of under water.”
The team wanted to make a full-size, 2-foot-tall sculpture that would be visible from a distance, but not visible from below.
“Our goal was to make it so that it was not visible to the outside world,” Wields says.
It took them about two months to create the first piece of the sculpture, which they named “Underwater Cavalry.”
In an article in the Journal of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. Department of Energy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gave the sculpture a grade of D+ for safety and D for engineering.
It also got an overall grade of C for construction.
Wield and his team put the project online in 2018.
It is currently on display in the Museum of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Association in Washington, D.C.