Table of Con­tents | Arti­cle doi: 10.17742/IMAGE.SA.12.1.12 | PDF

This image is neither decorative nor strictly available for simple denotative description. Our project rejects captions altogether. The spirit of this project is very much one of uncertainty and imagination. We hope that anyone with visual impairments will glean information from the written compositions.

Night Dri­ve

I have always antic­i­pat­ed night­fall. Grow­ing up in Cal­gary, AB, some of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries are of watch­ing the city trans­form as the sun set, star­ing out the win­dow of my par­ents’ car and see­ing the urban sig­nage turn the land­scape into shim­mer­ing dis­plays of light and glossy sur­faces. The imper­fect mir­ror of the night­time road will be an image that sticks with me my entire life. How­ev­er, the antic­i­pa­tion of beau­ty became an antic­i­pa­tion of dread fol­low­ing a col­li­sion I had while dri­ving home one night. These feel­ings of dread and desire have since merged to cre­ate a hybrid sen­sa­tion, a push and pull towards the night. More specif­i­cal­ly: a push and a pull towards the night road. My fas­ci­na­tion is ground­ed in the speed with which one expe­ri­ences the city while dri­ving, the way scenery can shift rad­i­cal­ly from moment to moment.

Struc­tures of Antic­i­pa­tion pro­vid­ed the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore the urban night-time in a medi­um oth­er than instal­la­tion or sculp­ture. Using the road as my focus, I decid­ed to dri­ve from dusk till 2am and set up my cam­era in the pas­sen­ger seat to record the expe­ri­ence. At this point I wasn’t sure what imagery this would yield or what text I would cre­ate to pair with the video stills. Review­ing the footage the next day and think­ing back on my expe­ri­ence, both the pre­vi­ous night and night-time com­mutes in gen­er­al, I was tak­en by how much of an influ­ence the radio has on the expe­ri­ence of dri­ving. Since my col­li­sion, con­stant audi­to­ry stim­u­la­tion has been a major cop­ing mech­a­nism of mine to stave off anx­i­ety while com­mut­ing. In those moments when I feel the first stir­rings of pan­ic, I raise the vol­ume to almost painful lev­els. The sound re-focus­es me, or rather, un-focus­es me from the fear that some­thing ter­ri­ble is about to hap­pen. Acknowl­edg­ing this, I felt the most appro­pri­ate text to pair with the video stills would be brief tran­scrip­tions of radio noise from the time of the video frame.

The series of five dip­tychs depict my jour­ney from down­town Wind­sor out into Essex Coun­ty and even­tu­al­ly back towards the city cen­tre. The tim­ing of the sym­po­sium coin­cid­ed with Inter­na­tion­al Goth Day (May 22nd), and so each image is paired with tran­scrip­tions from an inter­view with Lol Tol­hurst of The Cure and lyrics from both Depeche Mode and Bauhaus. As the frames progress, they depict the chang­ing light as the sun fades and I dri­ve fur­ther and fur­ther into the coun­ty. The final images are pri­mar­i­ly black squares, punc­tu­at­ed only by my head­lights and the far­away flow of oth­er cars. As I drove through the night, these unre­mark­able coun­ty roads lost all sense of famil­iar­i­ty. The radio was my only com­pan­ion to stave off the grow­ing unease as I moved beyond the safe­ty of street­lamps and oth­er com­muters. Even­tu­al­ly, my anx­i­ety won out; I sought out famil­iar roads to take me back towards the city.

Struc­tures of Antic­i­pa­tion gave me the incen­tive I need­ed to begin explor­ing new medi­ums and new nar­ra­tives. My prac­tice has always been ground­ed in the urban night­time and research focused on explor­ing nar­ra­tives in sci­ence fic­tion of impend­ing dystopi­an cityscapes. Refo­cus­ing this anx­i­ety, I can see myself fur­ther explor­ing the road and the night­time com­mute in greater detail, in a way that is more ground­ed in the present than in pre­dic­tions of the future.