Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Slow Inevitable Death

Ready for a heavy handed artistic metaphor for the carnage that is the American auto industry? Artist Jonathan Schipper is happy to oblige with this distressingly cool concept:

This sculpture is a machine that advances two full sized automobiles slowly into one another over a period of 6 days, simulating a head on automobile collision. Each car moves about three feet into the other. The movement is so slow as to be invisible.

It is almost impossible to watch a modern action film without at least one automobile wreck. Why do we find interest and excitement it new versions of the same event? Why are we not satisfied? Cars are extensions of our body and our ego. We buy or modify cars that reflect our personalities and egos. When we see an automobile destroyed, in a way we are looking at our own inevitable death. This moment is, because of its inherent speed, almost invisible. We have slowed the event via film and video but only from a camera's perspective. We never get to see the transformation of living breathing car too wreck in its entirety, in detail. This piece offers the viewer the ability to examine in three dimensions the collision of these cars. A moment that might take a fraction of a second in an actual collision will be expanded to take days.

Car wrecks are spectacular moments. This piece by changing one of the key variables removes and changes the nature of the event. What was life threatening is now rendered safe. What was supremely spectacular is now almost static. The wreck has been broken down to its Newtonian components. We are left to contemplate our own mortality our own Newtonian components.
Go here for videos.

If only the cars had engines and a full tank of gas so there was at least the possibility of an explosion, but liability issues probably trump art when it comes to lethal explosions in a museum.

Thanks to Michael G. for finding this item.


  1. I dunno what Michael Schipper's message is if any, but a truly Flint take on this would involve at least one of the cars being stolen, used in a party store heist, striking a pedestrian during the getaway, crashing, and then having the occupants beaten by an angry mob. Performance art of that level would surely top Karen Finley's yam cramming exploits or the dude who turned the urinal upside down and called it art.

    Anyone wanna make a few bucks?

  2. Yes, I was thinking there needed to be some sort of criminal element to make the piece complete.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.