Tag Archives: tunnels

Butt A and B: doors to tunnels open

An anonymous source informs us that the doors to the tunnels beneath Butt A and B are taped open. There’s a blank wall on the Butt A side.

This information is provided for, um, educational purposes only.

“Ghost Machine” More Than Ghost Machine

The ghostly senior art project of Matthew Valades ’08 in a basement tunnel of the Art Studio (artist and art pictured above and below) is featured in today’s Hartford Courant, as is the Wesleying post about it.

Buried in a dank corner of Wesleyan University’s art studio, it hangs from the ceiling, bathed in cold blue light and aimed into space. Sometimes, it turns itself on, purring with loud, rhythmic thrums. Its purpose? Speculation on campus swirls. The machine might cause you to hallucinate, someone posted on “Wesleying,” a student-run blog, maybe even see ghosts. Students and professors who paint and sculpt on the floors above it don’t know who put it there or what it does.

…There’s no sign posted to explain where the installation begins or ends, or any advertising to draw an audience. News of it spread on campus by word-of-mouth and the Internet. “It’s viral,” said Kuivila.

Valades thinks that reaction suits the installation’s guerrilla nature. He’s a bit miffed that some people boil it down to the “ghost machine,” but added, “If it gets people down here and thinking about [the hallway], I guess that’s the point.”

…When he’s not adjusting the installation’s decor, Valades enjoys seeing how people react to it. Some take it in stride. Others, not so much — as one recent post on the Wesleyan student blog attests.

“how does it work??” the anonymous poster wrote. “ugh i pass it all the time but never know what to do.”

Yeah what’s up, this is Wesleying and legitimate news sources source us. Check out this sound installation, maybe you will hallucinate or something!

Full article: A Strange Machine’s Making Noise at Wesleyan

Ghost in the machine

If you go to Art Studio North (or South) and go into the basement tunnels, you can catch a really cool senior thesis sound installation. It was introduced to me by a friend saying “Hey, wanna go see the thing in the tunnels that’s supposed to make you hallucinate?”

An extremely long hallway (think the length of 3-5 dorm halls) is eerily lit with blueish fluorescent lights, covered with clumps of cellophane, and what resembles a giant speaker gun is blasting low frequency sound waves. I asked someone passing by what it was about and they said something about the resonant frequency of ghosts.

I have no idea how long it’s going to be up; Go check it out while you can.

Columbia <3s their tunnels, too

Whether you carry a crowbar with you on a regular basis or if you just gaze longingly at locked doors– If you’re interested in urban exploration at all, check out Bwog‘s celebration of Columbia’s tunnels here and here. Theirs don’t seem to be as intricately graffitied as Wesleyan’s infamous subterranean network, but tunnels are tunnels, and the allure remains the same. Bwog also sums up (very eloquently, might I add) the intricacies of student attachment to the tunnel systems, which could be why so many people flipped the fuck out when the Butts tunnels were repainted earlier this year. Dave Pesci, take note:

Subterranean in both the literal and figurative sense, the tunnels are the domain of a subversive and adventurous few–It takes a particular kind of person to want to go down here, and an even more particular kind of person to actually go down here. Tunneling therefore creates a sense of kinship with the past; an ironic sense of connection within a world that doesn’t seem to be connected to anything.

For more reading on Wesleyan’s tunnels, see here, here, and here. Also, not college related, but check out what looks to be a religious experience for any tunnel enthusiast: The giant tunnels under the Niagara Falls.

Finally, Another Chalker Masturbation Manifesto…

So there’s like a shit ton of wespeaks in the Argus this week about chalking and activism and identity and revolution and disney lyrics. Great, I say. Who the fuck doesn’t love the Argus full of Wespeaks?

And while if you asked me personally my opinion on the whole matter of chalking (hell, if you asked me my opinion on fucking toast), I’d talk your ear off, the one thing I’m homing in on in particular tonight is I guess the whole why we bother.

Mike Pernick ’10 writes in his column this week:

Going out and spray painting in the tunnels is a great way to show that you care about your what’s happening in your life. The campaign to bring back chalking is a wonderful expression of free speech within the Wesleyan community. Every day there are countless examples of people who are concerned about their environment. Yet few here at Wesleyan seem to truly care about the fate of our nation. Sure, many individuals spend time talking about how much they hate Bush and they despise Republican policies, yet what have they done about it? Ask yourself the key question, “What have I done to fight against dangerous conservative policies in America?”

And I think this is on the minds of many at Wesleyan who don’t really understand where the chalking and the butt tunnels are fitting into this grand activist vision we all have for Wesleyan.

And to be fair, at first glance, it doesn’t seem to fit. They seem like highly insular forms of resistance that have no bearing on the outside world whatsoever. And granted, a lot of the shit we do at Wesleyan is pretty much just angry masturbation because, well, Wesleyan is one of the toughest colleges in the country and god forbid we let off some steam now and then.

Regardless, the theme I’m hitting on is that a lot of chalkers here do not chalk just for the sake of chalking. They do not chalk simply for the experience of expressing themselves. Yes, as Bennet has said over and over again, we have tons of venues for expressing ourselves. But as I argued before, chalking is about building a community. It’s about constructing a home for ourselves and a claiming some sense of communal identity.

Wesleyan as an institution does not really build social cohesion. We as a school do not have an institutional memory that binds us all together as Wesleyan students. We cannot all appropriate traditions and ideas from the school’s past and really rally around them. And so when Wesleyan tries to take away some of the very few traditions that remain–say chalking or tunnel graffiti–it serves to again, alienate us and separate us into individualized factions that cannot build a socially cohesive campus.

And there are a ton of other factors that play into this (like GRS, the disperse locations of student housing, the lack of campus-wide events, fucking Facebook, iPods, cellphones etc, etc), so I’m not just saying that chalking is the only thing to get pissed off about here.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Wesleyan used to be known as an activist campus. It really doesn’t carry that reputation anymore and I don’t think it’s because Wesleyan students are lazy. I don’t think it’s because they don’t care. But I do think that it’s because in order to build campus-wide support for any issue, you must first overcome the utterly insane degree of alienation that we experience every day as students.

I’ve heard this alienation described mostly as awkwardness (as if awkwardness is somehow a more palatable word for it). With few notable exceptions, I think students at Wesleyan feel extremely awkward breaking ranks with their comfort circle and engaging anyone for any reason–from hooking up, to dating, to friend-making, to petition writing, to eating dinner with strangers…whatever. I think you get my drift.

So in sum, I think by protecting chalking, we are taking a step in the right direction. We are creating a community and we are saying fuck the awkwardness. Who the hell needs it?

And you can do this without chalking. Make a new friend tomorrow. Talk to someone completely different. Stop pulling out your cellphone every fucking five minutes and finally look your classmates in the eye and smile when you pass them by.

But for Pete’s sake, get out there and engage with the rest of this school.

Engagement is a form of activism, perhaps even the strongest. Perhaps it’s not protesting against a war and it certainly won’t end up in any newspaper, but I think part of what made Wesleyan so weird in the first place was a solid refusal on the part of the student body to accept alienation, to accept the awkwardness.

By allowing the administration to take shots at whatever institutions we have left to build this community, we are making it easier for them to push over the next generation of Wesleyan students. The more alienated we become, the harder it is to fight for old Wesleyan. We are being weakened and by perpetuating this sense of awkwardness we are complicit in the whole process.

Chalking won’t fix the problem but I’m sure it’ll help.

(I’d like to direct you all at this time to Zach Strassburger ’06s awesome wespeak today about chalking and its effects on community.)

Creation, Destruction

Great inspiration for the Butt tunnels…Time lapse of artists in Japan collaborating in painting, designing, erasing, whitewashing, blackwashing, and repainting over and over again in a 1 week span. Amazing.


There is a general feeling of unrest on campus and the sense that the stasis may be ending. The paint on the tunnels wasn’t even dry before tagging started back with a vengeance. The Keep Wesleyan Weird facebook group reached nearly 700 members within 24 hours of its creation (right now it’s at 720–that’s 25% of the student body). The very next day, news came via RAs that the administration would not be continuing its work in the tunnels because off the backlash.

And no one really knows why all this is happening now. The general sentiment is “Fight for ol’ Wesleyan”, but in a time when none of the undergraduates were here for chalking’s heyday and when the past few years have been so quiet…We’ve all been such good little children.

There’s a fear that the administration has taken the bait for the prestige game, the old anxiety about “mainstreaming”, ten thousand buzzwords, etc., and while painting the Butts tunnels hasn’t woken any sort of sleeping giant, it’s set some strange gears into motion.

This is not a call to action for any righteous cause; No one is under the impression that they are starting a revolution. But the fact is that Wesleyan is not a Little Ivy, not a Little Three, not a Small Idyllic Liberal-Arts College In The Northeast. Wesleyan is Wesleyan, and as one tagger in the tunnels wrote, “There are decades under this.”

Bennet is leaving, the university is in transition. We’ve gotta get serious about this shit.



They painted over the Butts tunnels!

WHAT THE FUCK, WESLEYAN. You know, I think the mainstreaming argument is mainly bullshit, I wasn’t here for the chalking ban, I don’t really care that you’ve been trying to shut down the frats for years now. But what the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck?! One of the things that attracts people to Wesleyan is its quirkiness, its culture, its “free spirit” of sorts. If we wanted a homogenized campus, we would’ve fucking gone to Williams and joined the equestrian team. Where else can you get this kind of education with this kind of atmosphere? Home rule by the students, if you will. And there you go, literally whitewashing it.

Who are you trying to please? And what the fuck are you trying to prove?!

You should bring tour groups into the tunnels, if anything. You assholes, you fucking assholes.