Crash Course

Installation at Art in General, New York, 2008

4 min, video, silent, black & white, 2008

Crash Course refers to a body of knowledge acquired in short term as in making do as well as to a trajectory whose end is certain as in a course of collision. While the everyday situation that provides the scenario for the piece is the car accident involving pedestrians, the thematic horizon is given by the contemporary occurrence of war.

The point of departure for this project was the protest held at Tiananmen Square in 1989, especially the scene in which a protester confronts a tank. In the Crash Course video, the confrontation was moved to an everyday urban context. The tank is represented by the Hummer, a sports utility vehicle that was actually converted from military to civil use, while maintaining its connotation of wealth and power. Here the Protester makes use of the figure of the pedestrian but it is dressed for a war battle. What follows is a series of situations in which the pedestrian strikes the Hummer with the quixotic intention of reversing a situation of power in which he represents the weakest point.

Crash Course (New York Psychiatric Hospital), c-print, variable dimensions, 2008

The car poses used in this project comprise an iconography of war and wealth. In the particular case of the Hummer, what is articulated in these product photographs, as to make it bluntly explicit, is the vehicle’s military provenance. In the video, not unlike the architectural representations of power in the city behind, the car remains static. Its force is to be countered not only as physical presence but also as an image.

Crash Course (Copenhagen Tycho), c-print, variable dimensions, 2008

The cityscape featured in the video is a composite of three cities: Beijing, Copenhagen and New York. While the choice of cities was contingent upon the production conditions of the video, the type of architecture present in each scene provides an uncanny continuity between diverse contexts. Each image is an assembled panorama of image segments shot at 30 degrees intervals. There is a continuing panning movement to the left throughout the video.

Besides the camera’s perpetual panning, the only other movement in the video is given by the body actions against the car. From scene to scene, the car is attacked from every angle. Each of these actions results from photo sequences shot at 8 frames per second.

Crash Course, installation at Art in General, New York, photo documentation by James Shanks, 2008

The installation is made out of two ‘L’ sections, juxtaposed at their connecting point, so that as a whole they form two intersecting planes. The largest of these sections accommodates an 8 x 10' screen, along with a 8 x 5' one. The smaller ‘L’ section holds two 8 x 5' screens. Black netting is stretched across the two screens of the smaller section while a dark rear projection screen is used to cover the largest ‘L’ section.

Different degrees of visibility are afforded from all angles of viewing, inviting the viewer to pursue a round about movement in relation to the screens. Such horizontal dislocation on the part of the viewer correlates to the panning movement that occurs throughout the video.



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