Entering the highest and longest tube slide from the 5th floor, the rider spirals 30 mph for 55.5 meters (182 ft.) over a 26.5 meter (87 ft.) drop in less than a mere 30 second descent. Each tube slide, constructed of shiny stainless steel and translucent polycarbonate acrylic glass for glimpses in and out, begins on a different floor of the gallery and deposits the rider, who slides atop a cotton sack, on the ground floor’s main hall.
Belgian-born German artist Carsten Holler envisions a future where slides are employed as means of transport in our everyday lives. “Why don’t we have them all around? The slide should be a more banal means of transportation, not necessarily linked to children or some kind of emergency. It should be used every day to get from one point to another.” Indeed, fashion mogul Miuccia Prada recently commissioned a tube slide to whisk her from the window of her Milan office through the building then looping around it to her awaiting car.
But from the artistic point of view, not only are they sleek and majestic, the act allows one to surrender to the control of the object. The artist describes his vision as a “playground for the body and the brain” claiming, “It gives you the possibility to let some of those things go that you carry around as an adult. By letting yourself go you somehow get to the bottom of things.”
For more images and information, see The Unilever Series: Carsten Holler on the Tate Modern website and a here for a video of the ride (Picture credit: Eddie Mulholland).