Skip navigation

Motion Landscape Video Series


Motion Landscape Video Series
Ross Rudesch Harley

[First published in Cantrills Filmnotes, No75/76, Nov 1994

Travelling Cinema

I can still remember those long childhood journeys made through the mid-
dle of the night and on into the early hours of the next day: staccato im-
ages, superimposed reflections, rhythmic sounds and fleeting sensations
offered by an enchanted landscape endlessly flashing past my window.
These trips impressed upon me a film-like sense of movement from our
familiar Sydney home to the outer-Melbourne suburb my grandmother
lived in. Ever since, my perception has been dominated by the multi-sen-
sorial experience of moving mechanically over land and through space in
the glass and metal chariots of our age. I recall our drives as a series of
interconnecting travelling shots, though I didn’t quite think of it like that
at the time.

And yet, the kind of ‘machine vision’ set in motion by these journeys never
really left me. No doubt this is true for many of us who negotiate the land-
scape via the medium of the car, not to mention trains or planes1. From
my perspective at least, the road was like a giant real-time widescreen/
sidescreen cinema machine. Whether I was lying in the back seat with my
sisters and brother, head craned upwards to catch the whirl of the Harbour
Bridge through the rear windscreen, or whether I watched more casually
out the side passenger windows, I captured the landscape as a series of
fragmentary animated ‘clips’, storing them in my mind for replay at some
later moment.

I suppose here in Australia, we all learnt to ‘drive’ a long time ago. This
was the basic starting-point for my Drive: Motion Landscapes project.
Using video shot on trips made over the last four years, the series reflects
upon the mechanical flow of contemporary life. When Paul Virilio claims
that “what goes on the windshield is cinema in the strict sense.”3, I can’t
help but nod my head in agreement. Even outside the movie theatre, our
everyday experience has become profoundly mechanised, cinematic.
Our encounter with place and our sense of landscape is continually
mediated by the means we use to negotiate it. Landscape is itself no
longer limited to the natural world, extending into the entire built and
unbuilt environment (which is paradoxically unified and disrupted by our
new-found mobility). In travel at least, the environment is encountered
via some electro-mechanical transportation system. Although the car may
have introduced many of us to this daily ‘travelling cinema’, the same
principles seem to hold true for many other forms of transportation. Buses,
trains, airplanes, ferries, cycles and so on, orchestrate the landscape into
something akin to cinema, television or video.

Drive: Motion Landscapes

Hence my current project, which I would like to describe and contextualise
here. Most of my comments relate to the ideas surrounding the series (and
are not necessarily descriptions of the project itself). All of the images
produced here are stills from the videos, and serve to illustrate the general
discussion of contemporary landscapes set in motion by various media.
However, some brief description of the work is still in order. Drive: Motion
Landscapes is an attempt to edit and compose video recordings of my
travel experiences into a continuing series of short interlinked works. Each
one (there are seven at present, and five more underway) is a few minutes
long, and emulates a short ‘ride’ in a vehicle. Layered videographic images
of the passing landscape or outstretched ribbons of road, train-tracks or
canals are woven into first person stories to do with those places. Some of
these experiences of motion captured on tape are abstract or conceptual,
while others are more biographical (and hence narrativised).

My aim is to link personal memories, stories, images and sounds into an
evolving series of interconnecting video-journeys4. In this sense, they give
expression to the idea of life as a series of long travelling shots. Each work
in the series presents a number of moving scenes that reveal something
of our contemporary ‘machine vision’ experienced in the culture of late
twentieth century travel.

Although these ‘motion landscapes’ stem from my own experience and
perception, each says something of the shared environment we all journey
in. I’ve tried to merge public space with personal memories and stories.
From the perspective of moving vehicles and other perceptual machines,
the viewer is taken on a journey that has neither beginning nor end.
The videos can be screened individually, in groups, or as a continuous
whole. They are also part of my ongoing concern to make explicit con-
nections between disparate aspects of contemporary culture. How does
the road organise our experience and perception of travel? What kind of
‘kinetic architecture’ do we encounter from our mechanical cinema ma-
chines? And how might these ideas relate to other histories - of say cinema
or the railway?

Navigational Beacons

One of the first instances of ‘kinetic architecture’ that leapt out at me from
the passing blur was the petrol station. It wasn’t until I spent a number of
weeks at the Banff Centre in Canada that I became aware of how much I
was fascinated by these ubiquitous sights. They glow on the horizon like gi-
ant navigational beacons. We watch as they pass silently by the homeward
side of our most well-travelled roads. They are 24 hour shrines to a dying
modernity, asserting their bold horizontal lines and standard geometrical
form against all odds. Like it or not, the service station is one of the great
industrial icons of our time.

Unlike any pre-twentieth-century architecture, they are landmarks designed
solely for the driver. From behind safety-glass they appear in a motorised
stream of motion, looming against the clutter of mere pedestrian-scale
objects. Some might even claim a certain perfection of spatial communica-
tion: a commercial economy of means and singularity of expression.
You can spot a petrol station at great distance and even greater speed.
The wafer-thin illuminated canopy that hovers over rows of multi-product
pumps is signage and roadside protection all in one. With monolithic san-
serif type and clean logos towering to the side, the driver is lured to one
petrol company’s station at the expense of another’s.

The epic disruptions and strange connections created by the motion of the
car travelling at speed remain irresistable, fascinating and compelling.
Writing of his experience upon moving to Los Angeles, the British critic
Reyner Banham expresses a similar idea. He says “the language of design,
architecture, and urbanism in Los Angeles is the language of movement.
Mobility outweighs monumentality, and the city will never be fully
understod by those who cannot move fluently through its diffuse urban
texture, cannot go with the flow of its unprecedented life. So, like earlier
generations of English intellectuals who taught themselves Italian in order
to read Danté in the original, I learned to drive in order to read Los Angeles
in the original”.2

In Calgary, the Texas of Canada and an hour’s drive from Banff, the
competition among these grand monuments to commerce is astonishing.
The trip to Calgary along the snow-laden mountains became the subject
of the first video in the series - Miles. The next, called Fuel, creates a three
minute continuous loop of endless gas stations after dark. Like weird fast
food places from another planet, these late-night places provide the empty
driver with plenty of fuel to burn. Gas, food, and lodging in the same
synthetic environment.

Of course, they also stand as dumb monuments to corporate waste and
consumption. A lot of time has been spent making these places ‘attractive’,
in the most fundamental sense. Ever since the American inventor Sylvanus
F. Bowser came up with the idea for a simple pump in 1895, people have
been refining the design of petrol bowsers and their immediate surround-
ings to attract new customers. When cars blocked traffic waiting outside
the first curbside pumps in front of grocery stores, a few bright sparks
(around 1907) came up with the idea of setting up drive-through garages

These places took an enormous variety of forms in the teens, but they
mostly looked like train stations for the new horseless carriages. Some of
the stations were more like Revival Greek temples or Egyptian palaces.
Others sported majestic domes, elaborate pillars, or even Japanese tea
house pagodas. That was the whole point. Petrol stations were disguised in
fantastic garb to gain market appeal. The garage had to be exotic, welcom-
ing and attractive; perhaps even ‘beautiful’. From the 1920s till the 1960s
petrol stations combined service-with-a-smile and a bewildering array of
sometimes-bizarre thematic designs to draw customers away from the

Since the mid sixties, we’ve witnessed the gradual ‘perfection’ of today’s
purpose-built designs. Starting with American industrial designer Elliot
Noyes’s high-modern schemes for Mobil in 1963, the petrol station has
finally become a shrine to the god of its own creation. Made from brushed
steel, monochrome petroleum-plastics, bold corporate graphics and daz-
zling metal-halide lighting, the contemporary petrol station now stands for
nothing other than itself. It’s a pure sign of our petrol-based economy: a
spectacular stage lit bright for an all-consuming multi-nationalism.
That’s why petrol stations are now pretty much the same the world over.
The ones I encountered in Calgary are essentially no different from the
ones in Australia. Though there are distinct differences in the look of
each company, there is no chance we could ever mistake a contemporary
garage for anything else (as we might have done in the past). Most design
standards are devised for the global marketplace. The language remains
steadfastly modern and ‘universal’. If the International Style advocated by
many this century has fallen into disrepute in architectural circles, here we
find its ultimate commercial realisation. One can’t help but be at least a
little in awe of such uncompromising global functionalism.

In fifty years time we’ll probably look back in wonder (perhaps anger) at
these Modern temples of mechanisation. By then the depletion of natural
resources, traffic congestion and environmental decay may well have
bashed the final nails into the automobile’s coffin. But in the meantime,
the future of the petrol station lies in the sale of new and different kinds of
fuel. The grocery store with a pump out front has come full circle. The local
servo is becoming a retail outlet, replacing fan belts and spark plugs with
Fantails and fizzy drinks. The age of Seven Eleven, Food Plus and Shell
Select is the age of fast fuel.

The Mobilised Gaze

I suspect we use the same ‘mobilised eye’ when we travel through other
commercial landscapes. What is the real difference between the shopping
mall and the airport? Or what about the differences between, say, ride
films, arcade games, and virtual reality simulations that aim to blur the
distinction between history and reality still further?

As Anne Friedberg recently put it, machines of mobility (such as cars,
trains, elevators, escalators, etc) extended our gaze to provide a kind of
virtual mobility. Her analysis concludes that “the coincident development
of department store shopping, packaged tourism, and proto-cinematic en-
tertainment began to transform this mobilised gaze into a commodity, one
sold to a consumer/spectator”5. Such a view sits very well with the idea
that the industrialised landscape is a spectacle of commercially integrated
attractions. Not surprisingly then, the conditions for cinema spectatorship
are also to be found in a number of social and technological transforma-
tions. Perhaps the information age is changing our experience of reality,
using our involvement with new media forms as a way to restructure the

Marshall McLuhan certainly thought that new technologies, especially in
media, influence the development of new environments:

“To say that any technology or extension of man creates a new environ-
ment is a much better way of saying that the medium is the message. This
environment is always ‘invisible’ and its content is always the old technol-
ogy. The old technology is altered considerably by the enveloping action of
the new technology.”6

The work of German sociologist Wolfgang Schivelbusch presents similar
ideas more clearly and with more historical rigour than McLuhan ever
did. Written in the mid 1970s, his book The Railway Journey traces the
changes industrialisation brought to the organisation and experience of
time and space in the 19th century. Although his main object of study is
not strictly speaking the role of new media forms. The Railway Journey is
an exemplary study of the origins and evolution of what many of us would
now take for granted as a kind of ‘technologised consciousness’. It has also
been extremely helpful in working through the ideas of motion and travel
in Drive.

According to Schivelbusch, the railway brought with it profound changes to
the structure and experience of everyday life. The new forms of mechanical
representation that emerged out of this new technological ensemble initi-
ated what could be called a ‘perceptual vortex’: it was as if the rider disap-
peared into an uncharted geographic space (though of course it was every
bit as planned and charted as today’s virtual spaces). No longer grounded
to a stationary point of view, the rider of the railway rushes through and
across a pictorial and sensorial space that engulfs all who negotiate it.
It is this very same vortex of longitudinal motion that animates many of
the supposedly participatory media of this century, from cinema to interac-
tive multimedia. The lateral motion, however, is almost always ignored in
mainstream media. This sideways glance is the view of the passenger, and
not of the driver barrelling down the line. I use this sideways viewpoint,
in combination with ‘down-the-line motion’ in an attempt to counter this
tendency. Mapless, Drift, and Accelerate especially work with this idea.
Tracks, which features an ‘endless’ journey throught the New York subway,
superimposes and intercuts a number of sideways views in order to gain a
quite different perspective on the ‘ride’ experience.

Tunnel-vision is also one of the conditions for a first person kinetic cinema,
of which the ‘ride film’ is the most obvious and exaggerated example. I
would also argue that this technique has been exploited by a parade of
commercial 20th century media innovations in order to create the illusion
of heightened participation and presence. In fact, participation decreases
as the audience is sucked into the vortex of unreflective forwards motion.
Not surprisingly, similar forces are also thought to be at play in the organi-
sation of contemporary space. According to film theorist Anne Friedberg,
“The virtual gaze is not a direct perception but a received perception
mediated through representation…The mobilised gaze has a history, which
begins well before cinema and is rooted in other cultural activities that
involve walking and travel…The cinema developed as an apparatus that
combined the ‘mobile’ with the ‘virtual’. Hence, cinematic spectatorship
changed, in unprecedented ways, concepts of the present and the real.”7

The annihilation of time and space that was so often talked about during
the latter part of the 19th century and which we now take as a ‘natural’ part
of everyday life could not have occurred without the appearance of a new
‘machine ensemble’ such as the railway (and later the freeway). Not only
did it include the locomotives, carriages and networks of tracks, it also
inaugurated a new architecture of tunnels, viaducts, telegraph poles, ticket-
ing systems, time-keeping machines and cathedral-like stations. (Today’s
technological ensemble includes the global telecommunications network,
tourism, theme parks, and urban spaces organised around the car.) In
short, the railway orchestrated a new landscape, which was apprehended
by a change in perception made possible by a radically new form of
mechanised movement:

“…the railroad was merely an expression of the rail’s technological
requirements…that machine ensemble that interjected itself between the
traveller and the landscape. The traveller perceived the landscape as it was
filtered through the machine ensemble.”8

As it turns out, Schivelbusch’s research and methodological approach sits
well with the study of new and emerging media. There is certainly a case to
be made for direct historical and social connections between the railway
and the new forms of roughly contemporaneous mass entertainments to
be found at amusement parks, and nickelodeons. The cinema and other
recent electronic media forms are part of a similar ensemble that orches-
trates its own effects. In turn, the new global media profoundly influence
our experience of post-industrial landscapes, banal or exoticised, televisual
or concrete.

Rather than telling a chronological story of the railway’s technological
emergence, he weaves a careful course through the adjacent fields that
made it possible for the railway to operate so successfully. In order to do
this he traces a vast array of literary, phenomenological, economic and
social changes brought about by this form of mechanical transportation
that was in turn shaping a modern spatiality.

Package Tours

As it’s often said, the railway was the first technology to package the travel-
ler as a kind of mobile spectator whose “visual perception is diminished
by velocity”9. In fact the new landscape that is framed by the moving
train window breaks with the earlier continuity between the traveller and
travelled space. Foreground becomes impossible to apprehend, and the
consistency of the traversed landscape is broken by disruptive intrusions
of the newly created railway geography. The view out the window is
animated by the trajectory of a fast moving train. Disconnected from the
immediate landscape by speed, travellers began to consider themselves as
packaged projectiles. Schivelbusch again:

“The train was experienced as a projectile, and travelling on it, as being
shot through the landscape - thus losing control of one’s senses…Thus
the rails, cuttings, and tunnels appeared as the barrel through which the
projectile of the train passes.”10

Depending on your point of view, this new vortex of ‘projectile travel’ was
either dull and boring or exciting and enriching. Those who wanted to hold
onto the old perceptual apparatus (including the likes of Ruskin and Flau-
bert) invariably found the train monotonous and aesthetically displeasing.
The discontinuous atomised view was stripped of all its human dimension
and contemplative value. Even worse, it invaded and scarred a natural
landscape that was so sacred for this group of Romantics. But for others,
such as French newspaper writer Benjamin Gastineau, the railroad choreo-
graphed the landscape into a living panorama unified by what he called
“the synthetic philosophy of the glance”. This was of course the kind of
vision that was to animate early appreciations of photography by Impres-
sionism. It was also the realisation of an illusion that was orchestrated by
the railway.

It also marks the origins of a new point-of-view for the traveller-as-specta-
tor. As trains packaged travel (this moment is also the birth of the idea
of the package tour), so new media package these same effects. Much
has been written on the influence of these technological changes on the
visualarts. Julie Wosk’s Breaking Frame is perhaps the best of these stud-
ies, drawing together a vast range of examples of how artists began to
respond to the railway in particular. Popular arts, entertainment and design
of the time “established a coherent framework for a world still in the midst
of fragmenting, disruptive change, a world that would become even more
intensely engaged with explosively exciting, and explosively dangerous,
new technologies.”12

However, as her study is limited to the nineteenth century, she makes no
comment upon the impact that psychological and social factors had upon
the newly forming institutions of cinema.

From my perspective, one of the most important aspects of the railway
was that it made possible: in entirely new point-of-view that broke with
traditional modes that presumed a stationary subject. From the front and
side of the moving train comes a mobile perspective that does not neces-
sarily obey classical laws. It is in a sense, the perspective of a mechanical
projectile, hurtling through space and annihilating a stable geography.
The sexual and militaristic overtones of this imagery are blatantly obvious.
It should also be obvious that this is the same spectacular point-of view
that has been endlessly simulated in commercial cinema and amusement
park attractions for decades. The heightened kinaesthetic effect offered by
these amusements dramatised the fears and anxieties associated with the
advent of incredible technological change. When it comes to today’s new
digital forms, little has changed.

Kinetic Cinema

The kinetic point-of-view structure is quite different to the kind that is
mostly described in classic film theory. There is still much to be done in
thinking through the consequences of the illusion of motion in contempo-
rary media. Drive, and the ideas that surround it, is a small contribution to
this particular area.

Most film theorists have overlooked the importance of the new motion-
based perspective that orchestrates the imaginary landscape of cinema.
They are more concerned with the evolution of a narrative system that
stitches the audience into the fabric of story and psychological characters.
A number of exceptions come immediately to mind - such as Tom Gunning,
Miriam Hansen, and Vivian Sobchak (whose Address of the Eye is crucial to
any understanding of such studies of spectatorship). However, their main
focus is on the history of cinema, and they are not so concerned with the
relations between experimental film and the development of electronic me-
dia. I suspect that there are a number of salutary lessons here for those of
us interested in making connections between so-called old and new media.
I think there is a certain anachronism in much of the discussion about the
meaning and development of multimedia and interactive entertainments
because of an over-reliance on narrative approaches. So for example, we
often hear from producers and distributors of new media work that it’s only
a matter of time before computer games and CD-ROM titles will become
like interactive narrative movies. Storytelling and identifiable characters
will supposedly appear shortly and save the day. To me, this is a misread-
ing of media history, or at least a misunderstanding of the notion that
emerging media are replaying the history of cinema. According to such
views, the first 20 years of cinema were spent developing from the crude
peep shows, amusement parks and nickelodeons into respectable middle
class entertainment. Narrative won the day, and, so many say, storytelling
will win the day now.

Personally I’m not so sure. In my opinion there is another kind of history
that animates a different future - one that looks more at the ways in which
forms of participation and presence are orchestrated by very different
forces. As we can see from the example of railways, new media are as
much about the development of new perceptual and experiential effects
as they are about anything else. The Drive series is an attempt to work
through a different way of negotiating these changes. The videos combine
lateral and forward motion through space with first person narration and
occasional scrolling texts superimposed over the images. The ‘motion
landscape’ becomes the scene for a personal travelogue that reanimates
the passing places and surrounding histories.

To return to the example of cinema, we could easily argue that the success-
ful incorporation of new technologies into the mainstream film industry
has always been dependent upon the spectacular inclusion of a new
technique into an old form. Examples of a heightened cinema of effects
that suposedly transport the audience into the film are endless, from the
use of colour, sound and music, through to the adoption of film gauges
and aspect ratios in film production and exhibition.

Of course, the filmic environments that presented dramatic large-scale
views of the world were an extension of early 19th cetury attractions such
as panoramas and diaramas. Here, in the new cinematic form, the audi-
ence did not actually move (as they did in the pre-cinematic panoramas
of travel landscapes). Instead, they participated in the grand spectacle
of entertainment that immersed them in a wraparound filmic space. This
fascination with large screen immersive cinema has continued through
the history of World Fairs and other location based entertainment centres
(which are found today lastly in theme park attractions).

This Is Cinerama was the first film made in 1952 for the new extra
widescreen format that challenged the 1.33:1 aspect ratio (which was the
industry standard). Cinerama required three projectors and a panoramic
screen (approximately three times as wide as normal screens) that
wrapped round the sides of the audience. The spectacle of the new format
was, not surprisingly, demonstrated by a thrilling ride shot from the fron
seat of a roller-coaster. Such a perspective broke the space of the frame,
engulfing the audience in a visceral rush towards a main diminishing point
that created the impression of passing the picture plane. Belton gives a
great description:

“As the roller coaster moved forward, so did the camera. Spectators in
the theatre were suddenly plunged into one of the most visceral motion
picture experiences ever created. The frame of the theatre proscenium
seemed to disappear, and the audience had the uncanny sensation of
entering into the events…Cinerama put the audience in the front car of the
roller coaster and surrounded them with eye-filling peripheral images
which created an unprecedented illusion of depth…the music and sound
effects spread from the centre to speakers in the rear of the auditorium.”14

The films made for Cinerama were profoundly non-narrative, and mark the
shift away from plot towards the creation of what we might call the ‘partici-
pation effect’. This also coincided with the historical shift of audiences away
from habitual moviegoing. Instead of going to films once a week, audi-
ences became attracted in large numbers to new blockbuster, event style
films. Even though Cinerama films were incredibly expensive to produce
and exhibit (requiring a complex system of cameras, projectors, theatre
layout and an army of exhibition personnel) the films still made a profit.

The first five Cinerama features were all travelogues shown in 22 specially
equipped theatres, but still managed to gross $82 million. As visceral spec-
tacles, these films were hardly seamless. But they managed to spectacular-
ise the technology of presence and thrust audiences into a spiralling vortex
of pseudo participation.

The audience participated in this orchestrated kinetic landscape, which was
itself filtered through the technological ensemble. Like other participatory
media, Cinerama was a form of immersive entertainment that drew upon
and advanced a discourse of presence that can be discerned from the
earliest film attractions. For obvious reasons, non-commercial filmmakers
and artists never really got a chance to work in the medium; nor did they
get the opportunity to push the language and form beyond its commercial
origins. The same probably holds true today, although there are a small
number of people and institutions trying to do non-commercial projects us-
ing large screen technologies, motion paltforms and computer graphics15.

This spectacularisation of the medium is part of the process of commodi-
fication and the reification of participation. It continues in the present
fixation on interaction and immersion in new digital media. The front seat
projectile point of view structure of trains and roller-coasters is part and
parcel of today’s electro-mechanical entertainments. From the location-
based ride films on large film formats and motion control platforms,
through to the most commonly available flight simulators, racers and other
arcade style games, this particular effect of participation is maintained and
heightened. How will independent film/video/multimedia-makers of the
present and future respond to this version of ‘participation’? For my part,
Drive is a very small start to thinking through different ways of placing
the spectator in relation to action on the screen - in everyday life and its
representation through various media.


The history of widescreen film formats provides a fitting example of such
exclusions and incorporations. John Belton’s recent book Widescreen Cin-
ema is an excellent overview of this mini-history. It is a particularly good
example for me, because it underscores the importance of maintaining the
illusion of participation in all mass media. More specifically, widescreen is
also a major part of the story of ‘ride films’, which rely on exactly the same
positioning of the audience - quite literally. It is the ideology of ‘you are
here’. This ideology is nothing more than an elaborate effect produced by
what Tom Gunning has called (after Eisenstein of course) “a cinema of
attractions”. I think it’s worth digressing a bit here, as this is a fascinating
object lesson for anyone interested in the invention and marketing of new
media technologies.

Although widescreen formats have been in existence since the invention
of cinema (as indeed have sound, colour, 3-D and so on), it wasn’t until
the 1950s that the super-widescreen formats found some acceptance in
the film industry. The reasons for this are largely to do with the demise
of the studio system, the advent of television, and a general disaffection
of cinema-going audiences who found their thrills in other leisure-time
amusements. According to Belton, “movies had to become more participa-
tory; the movie theatre had to become the equivalent of an amusement
park.”13 Cinerama (and after that Cinemascope, Todd AO, Vistavision and
so on) marks the start of this evolution. The adoption of Cinemascope and
stereo by the motion picture industry a year later was a direct response to
the challenge of Cinerama.

The idea of Cinerama does indeed go back to the dubious pleasures of the
fairground, and the more respectable World’s Fairs. The Paris Exposition
of 1900 featured a display called Cineorama, which interlocked ten 70mm
projectors to produce a 360degree image on a 300 x 30 foot screen. The
films presented there (before the projection equipment exploded, causing
the exhibit to be shut down) were typical of the phantom-ride films shown
at the turn of the century. Like many of the travelogues and actuality films
of the day, this particular film featured an ascending aerial view of Paris.
In a nearby pavillion, the Lunieres also installed a giant 400 square metre
screen, which presented 15 cinematographic views. These were spectacular
versions the then typical travelogues and actuality films that presented
exotic locations, or familiar places exotically. Enter a world you have never
seen before. Sounds familiar.

Experience of Motion

Putting the so-called ‘experience industry’ into a broad historical perspec-
tive, which includes an account of the railway, artificial commercial
environments, amusement attractions and Cinerama, and so on - can only
help in countering the current sensationalism that surrounds so much new
media. Commercial immersive interactive entertainment propels the audi-
ence through a digitally orchestrated landscape, in much the same way as
earlier mechanical amusements. Jean Baudrillard is quite correct when he
claims that:

“people no longer project themselves into their objects, with their affects
and their representations…[T]he psychological dimension has in a sense
vanished…little by little a logic of ‘driving’ has replaced a very subjective
logic of possession and projection…The vehicle now becomes a kind of
capsule, its dashboard the brain, the surrounding landscape unfolding like
a televised screen (instead of a live-in projectile as it was before).”16

Both the old and new forms encapsulate the fears, hopes and anxieties of
a new technological era. The new media are as much a part of the indus-
trial-entertainment complex as previous forms, and it’s worth reminding
ourselves of this - at least as often as we go on about the boundless new
potentials. “Participation and presence were always illusory phenomena:
they are now only illusions of earlier pseudo-authentic illusions, copies of
copies”17. As is often the case, it’s up to independent producers of media
to figure out new ways to present the landscapes of motion we encounter
in contemporary life, in full knowledge of related histories and possible


1. Indeed, there is surely a history waiting to be written on the relation between the car,
the landscape and the cinema - starting with mainstream road movies (such as Two Lane
Blacktop, Mad Max, even Duel), avant-garde film and video projects (such as the Cantrills’
Passage, Ant Farm’s Media Bum, or Chip Lord’s Motorist) and the art of people like Ed
Ruscha and Julian Opie.
2. Reyner Banham, Los Angeles: the Architecture of Four Ecologies, Pelican, England,
1973, p23.
3. Paul Virilio, “The Third Window”, in Cynthia Schneider and Brian Wallis (eds) Global
Television, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1988, p188.
4. Each ‘script’ also exists in a ‘hypermedia’ form; which is to say that individual stories,
places, characters and events can be electronically linked. As each ‘story’ develops and
is added to the work, it also becomes part of an evolving network (or web) of text and
digitised video, photos and sound. I hope to be able to make this expanding hypertext
version of the project available via the World Wide Web service on the Internet. As with
my previous videowork, the series will also be shown on multiple screens in the context
of an installation/exhibition.
5. Anne Friedberg, Window Shopping: Cinema and the Postmodern, University of Califor-
nia Press, Berkeley, 1993, p4.
6. Marshall McLuhan, Counterblast, Rapp and Whiting Ltd, London, 1970, p31.
7. Anne Friedberg, ibid, p3.
8. Wolfgang Schivelbusch, The Railway Journey: The Industrialisation of Time and Space
in the 19th Century, New York, Berg Publishers, 1986, p24.
9. Wolfgang Schivelbusch, ibid, p55.
10. Wolfgang Schivelbusch, ibid, p54.
11. Wolfgang Schivelbusch, ibid, p60.
12. Julie Wosk, Breaking Frame, New Jersey, Rutgers University Press, 1992, p29.
13. John Belton, Widescreen Cinema, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1992, p84.
14. John Belton, ibid, p2.
15. Jeffrey Shaw’s work at ZKM, the Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany, and
Michael Naimark’s research and virtual voyaging projects (now with Interval Research) in
California come immediately to mind.
16. Jean Baudrillard, “The Ecstasy of Communication”, in Hal Foster (ed) Postmodern
Culture, Pluto, London, 1985, p127.
17. John Belton, ibid, p210.