Monday, February 22, 2010


This was a video installation I did last semester. The video in the center is just a view out of the front window of a car going east down I-94, and the two videos on the sides are the right and left passenger windows of a car traveling east down Wisconsin Ave. The Wisconsin Ave videos are sped up so that they run for the same amount of time as the freeway video. They start and stop frequently at traffic lights, while the car on the freeway runs at a consistent speed.

I hold that a sense of place is critically affected by the particular vantage point from which we view the place. The same can be said for the way we perceive changes in our surroundings as we move through space.
It follows then, that changes in the ways we move through space also change the way we perceive the places we travel through. The changes that have been brought on by the development of the Interstate Highway System traversing our landscape are physically apparent; it is no coincidence that the expansion of metropolitan areas has paralleled the expansion of highways and expressways across the country. Widespread usage of highways has also changed the way we understand the dynamics of metropolitan areas. Expressway commuters often lose awareness of the places they travel through, not only because of faster travel times, but also because expressways are generally either elevated or shrouded by a buffer of trees or a noise-barrier wall. Travelers cannot fully experience the diverse locations they are passing through; instead they experience the monotony of eight-lanes of traffic and endless exit ramps. It is a very peculiar vantage point from which travelers' ability to observe changes in the landscape is greatly diminished. As a result, commuters who use expressways on a daily basis can lose their understanding of relationships between the places they travel to and from, and the space they travel through to get there.
I do not mean to suggest that we should abandon the use of expressways, but rather that we become aware of how they have changed our understanding of our surroundings.


  1. James,
    is there any way we can view the video?

  2. Joe,
    I didn't get any documentation of the video's running while the installation was up, I only had the three projectors I needed during my critique, so I never got the chance. I do have the videos stored on a computer at school, I will post them when I get the chance. You can imagine what it would be like.