arena

Single-channel video, color, silent, 50:20 (2000)



A video work accompanied by a set of still images from it, Arena examines the space of speed and the rendering of human experience that speed leaves in its wake. Cleared, restricted, and highly scrutinized, the tarmac of the autodrome is a cathedral reserved for velocity. Like other spaces of ritualized combat, this place carries a strange charge even when not in use. Contained in these hyper-slow images of speed (and its counterpart - failure) is a rendering of physical space for machines occasionally ruptured by the emergence of bodies from within and around them.

 

Highlighted here are two related themes. The first is a form of sacred space of the mechanical, a place defined as a geographic articulation of velocity. The second consists of the psychological conditions that inform the culture of such a place: the expectations of mechanical virtuosity, machismo, and heroism that are regularly undermined by misstep, accident, and simple defeat -- velocity and its aftermath. The blur of images refers not so much to the optical distortion that the pace of the vehicles renders upon a stationary observer, but rather to the kinesthetic mapping of desire onto these machines and what they represent. On a more visceral level, it refers to the urges both to be enthralled by spectacle and to be in the presence of overwhelming force.

 

Though complicated to achieve, the essence of speed is a simplified and reduced condition in which everything either serves or opposes it. Shown here are both glimmers of speed made excruciatingly slow — the simple condition made visible — and the after effects of speed when that simple condition has been returned to the slower arena of the complex.