The Kinematic Subject

The Vehicular Experience of Speed and Automobility in Virtuality/Reality

The Crash and Replayability

The most obvious violence of speed occurs when a high speed vehicle unexpectedly stops, potentially causing severe vehicle and subject injury. The nature of high speed activities are violent, and demands a dynamic between danger and safety in order for a crash (motile failure) not to occur. When one masters this dynamic, the control of speed becomes enjoyable, possibly to the point of addiction.

In objective reality, the crash serves as an end of an activity, where the subject experiences a failure of the safe distance provided by motile hybridity. Conversely, in the virtual spatio-temporalities of games and simulations it acts as a regenerative function, allowing the subject to continuously accelerate, lose control, crash, and restart anew (ref). Super Mario World (Nintendo, 1991) provides an interesting case of the ecstatic crash, or rather, the lack of it. Whenever Mario touches the side of an enemy, there is no ecstatic moment of death deceleration, just an instant suspension of game time. This creates a comic effect, and can be followed by the immediate replayability of that event,

thus creating a constant kinaesthesia of spatial movement, and ecstasy of changes in velocity.

Instead of experiencing the reality of hybridity ‘imperfection’ (Beckmann, 2004: 91), the crash becomes an experience of chaotic kinaesthesia; of ecstasy. Schnapp argues that while a constant increase in stimulus alerts the kinematic subject of increasing danger, the constancy of the increase

engender a resistance to this alert, leaving the crash as the only way out of the loop (1999: 34). If acceleration becomes normalised, then one’s resistance against speed is removed, resulting in the crash as the only escape (ibid). If the media mediates a constant acceleration of stimuli, where is the crash? Information overload? Information decontextualisation?