The Kinematic Subject

The Vehicular Experience of Speed and Automobility in Virtuality/Reality

Vehicular Experience

The vehicular experience of the driver, passenger and arguably the spectator is a vital element that illuminates a number of key elements and questions of media theory. To begin, how can we define the automotive vehicle in terms of media?

Time-based media are forms of kinetic art. Kinetic art is a broad category, described as a form of communication 'that moves, or appears to move' (Wikipedia, 2005). This definition however could be said to be applicable to all analogue media, as the deterioration through time is a change in state, and thus, a form of movement. As such, to define the car as a form of kinetic art is too broad a definition. Thus we have to define the car as a form of kinetic art that moves or appears to move only when it is interacted with. This is essentially Aarseth's definition of ergodic art: an art form that reacts when it is acted upon.

Automobility defines a discourse of self motivated movement and freedom of exploration, usually achieved through the control of a vehicle's velocity and direction. The centaur, a half man half horse beast of Greek myth is iconic of the concept of automobility. Both ergodicity and automobility share the qualities of kinetic art, and a similar 'behavioural' structure that transforms a subject's autonomous actions into a 'self-directed' trajectory.

To seize movement is to become movement, to follow a trajectory is to become trajectory, to choose a direction is to have the possibility of choosing one, to determine a meaning is to give oneself a meaning. . The movability of the camera seems to fulfil the most favourable conditions for the manifestation of the "transcendental subject." (Baudry, 1974-5: 43)

Appropriated from physics, the term 'ergodic' is derived from the Greek words ergos, 'work', and hodos, 'path or road' (Aarseth, 1999: 32). Ergodic art is a form whereby a path is produced by work. This concept draws heavy parallels with the concept of automobility; a concept that deals with the vehicles and culture of movement.

The term automobility works off the combination of autonomy, and mobility. In its broadest sense we can think of many automobilities - modes of autonomous, self-directed movement. The auto in the term automobile initially referred to a self-propelled vehicle (a carriage without a horse). The

autonomy was not just through the motor, but the capacity for independent motorized self-steering movement freed from the confines of a rail track. (Featherstone, 2004: 1)