The Kinematic Subject

The Vehicular Experience of Speed and Automobility in Virtuality/Reality


Baldwin argues that speed produces a delirium, which is broken by the crash (Baldwin , 2002: 130). This supports the idea that constant speed, or a constant rate of stimuli result in the delirium that is kinaesthesia. The faster the vehicle accelerates, the greater the frequency of stimuli projection (to be more precise, injection), and the greater the sensation of speed. Therefore there must be a link between the rate of stimuli perception and ecstatic experiences. To create an experience of ecstasy requires a change in the rate of stimuli mediation. Thus, ecstasy is an experience of time distortion created by a change in kinaesthesia. This is supported by Frampton, who defines ecstasy as when ‘we feel the measured passage of historic time to be altered, or to stop entirely’ (in Baldwin, 2002: 130).

Kinaesthesia and ecstasy can then be applied as a metaphor for media spectatorship. As such, we can deduce that an increasing frequency of stimuli results in an increasingly intensive experience. The acceleration of stimuli creates a crescendo of excitement, and the anticipation of epiphany. Performances of action and media reception can thus be seen as the acceleration / deceleration / constant speed. To summarise these concepts, speed creates kinaesthesia, and a change in speed creates ecstasy.

Vertigo is commonly associated with the sense one gets before falling, occurs when the perspectivism of the trajectory leads not to the infinite horizon, but to the finite aporia, signifying an end of the journey. Likewise, motion blurriness in still photography signifies a lapse in time during a state of motionlessness, causing a perceptual notion of movement, and in some cases, vertigo.

Ecstatic times include events of sudden high acceleration or deceleration. The crash is the ultimate example, being the last potential experience of ecstasy. In an interview regarding Breedlove’s 1964 land speed record, he described the 8.7 seconds of the crash event in 1.35 hours, a temporal expansion of 655:1 ( Baldwin, 2002: 129). If the extreme deceleration of the crash results in the perception of time expanding, then likewise, extreme acceleration must result in the perception of time contraction, and consequently the creation of atopia.