About "The Road"

I have two sort of "bodies of work", which I think of more like areas of focus/interest; one reasonably well researched and explored (eg. cold war, deceased physical media, Turing, computation, ANG, etc) of long interest but only expressed since 1996, and the other, cars, road trips, and the odd approach I have to cars; none of that is developed at all, really.

For no good reason I've always kept my interest in automobiles off to one side. For me, they blur the boundary between daily practical needs and pleasure and self-expression (_very_ old cars have been my only means of auto-motive transportation, ever) so they are in some ways to me, mundane. But also, 'car culture' is self-consciously distinct, and as ubiquitous as cars are, have been largely firewalled off from other arts and culture. What little encouragement I did get for my style of car practice always came from car culture. This firewalling has Not Worked Out for me.

It's safe to say that for most (but not all) car fans (I can't bring myself to use 'practitioners') cars are both object and performance; cars are meant to be driven. However most of car culture is rigidly stratified, and what I do is outside common practice: I build and modify old cars -- old enough such that most owners are happy enough to drive them on occasional Sundays -- and turn them into works of art for the purposes of road trips that require high levels of reliability and endurance.

The other portion of it, the Road Trip, has been a sort of calling, but ill-defined and again, I did not let it or encourage it to rise above the background, until recently.

For the record, the only place in my life where exists "nostalgia" involves automobiles, and it's pure emotional ideology, because I never actually experienced it, so it's not really "nostalgia"... it is my imagining of an idyllic early 1960's road experience. Roads reliable everywhere, cars well developed enough to be treated somewhat idealized (eg. they rise above mere mechanism and directly into a transparent _cultural prosthetic device_) and the looming disasters caused by runway consumerism surrounding them not fully manifest. I'm not otherwise a nostalgic person, I never dwell on my own past and I have no desire to visit or revisit any of these areas. At best, I want to do new with old artifacts and ideas; they're parallel universes that actually existed, ripe for plunder.

It is probably no coincidence that all of these things take place post-war and deep-cold-war. My current drive (sic) is to bring these things together -- the road, with cars-as-performance on the land, and the cold war, into alignment with ... well I'm not yet sure, yet, but to crack mind/body duality nonsense so encouraged by corporate compartmentalism of the computer and internet. And I have always tried to pull strong narrative out of abstract-seeming technology.

And the car itself -- this ties directly into consumerism and corporate American consumer ideology -- my car is basically one big series of flaws. Every single part has worn, and been repaired, to top-notch condition where it matters, but some stuff is simply worn out. Like our bodies, we have flaws, we age, wrinkles, touchy digestive systems, whatever, yet we (can) thrive and travel and enjoy, repair what we can and move on. It requires a relationship with the device that persists past sale and forming an intimate sort of knowledge through dedication that precludes buying a new one every two years.

But at their best, cars are _prosthetics_, bodily extentions. When I drive, my bodily relationship to the world shifts; the car is quite literally an extention of my _body_. I _feel_ the road through the car. I _feel_ the subsystems of the car itself operating in the same way I feel my own organs work. This is one critical area in which cars have changed, technology-wise; the very ability to have those sensations from an automobile have been removed, intentionally excised, from the driving experience, and largely because drivers want it. As little as power steering and power brakes (features few people I think are even aware of today, I think) are isolating, and none of my cars have those "features".

It might seem paradoxical that I am obsessed with Google Earth, the very peak of mediated abstraction of the physical planet, a seemingly created virtual space. But it essentially is _not_ a created virtual space; it is a representation of an actual place, the earth. For me, the visceral attraction to Google Earth is because it is a _sensory prosthetic_, it extends my body and vision to a place that in fact, I could and can and do go. Some of the places I could go would require things I do not have access to (airplane, helicopter, etc) but it is emtirely humanly possible to do so.

Of course Google Earth's imagery was compiled over a period of years, and is not real-time. But the earth's surface doesn't change that fast anyways, so it rarely matters; for most intents and purposes, "visiting" a place on the earth from some more or less realistic point of view is very much like "being there", to the point where I can routinely travel a route in Google Earth (say, a remote valley in the Mojave) and actually pre-remember it when I physically drive the same or similar route.

And who hasn't had the irrational impulse to look at a place to "see if anyone is there now" or some such equivalent, with Google Earth or Street View? We know how the images are constructed and placed before us on a computer display, yet some part of our inner sensorium sees it as otherwise.

This ends here, because this whole project is still unformed....

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