YOU ARE DRIVING IN IRAQ
Emerging from the concept of the IED as political tool, this piece uses the form of an IED to bring the war home by bringing Baghdad's urban space into ours and implicating American civilians in US involvement in Iraq. At well-trafficked intersections in Providence and in Boston we projected a series of short films on buildings using electric outlets found in the street. Most of the footage we showed was of cars driving and detonating in Baghdad. Triton built an incredible program allowing us to control our footage with the computer keyboard, so that we set off these explosions at will in our own intersection. With loud speakers and a table on the corner, we 'v-jayed' at the intersection, re appropriating public space for political consideration.
These loud and often violent films of cars exploding in Baghdad conflated the two urban spaces in two ways: the footage of the Baghdad explosion in a Providence or Boston intersection physically merged the two spaces, but our presence at the intersections, and our ability to set off the explosions at will, created noise, chaos, and confusion, targeting civilians and demanding their attention, much like IEDs themselves, thus reconfiguring our urban space for political consideration.
This project was initially inspired by the notion of the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) as-form. The very term "improvised" immediately calls to mind art, or at the very least, craft. Craft, however, makes us think of a craftsperson, but what interests me most is the anonymity an of the IED. Phenomenologically, the IED comes out of no where. It is usually hidden, and it only appears in the violent act of is destruction: that is to say, when it exists, it appears not to, and it appears to exist only at the moment it stops existing. It seems to act both autonomously and without any agency at all. The IED is not cathartic like the suicide bombing in a market. The IED is not the expression of a subject, but rather a pure phenomena of the political and physical landscape. It is as though, in the moment of detonation, the infrastructure consumes itself: the physical landscape strikes back at its political controllers, reasserting its material existence by paradoxically destroying itself. Concrete geography explodes into the virtualities of geopolitics. Forget cognitive mapping: the IED re-maps real space.
From the IED my thoughts moved to the automobile-both its primary target and a common mode of delivery-and from there to automobile space, to the automobile as vision-machine, and, finally, to the drive-in-theatre. There are three automobile spaces: the hypperreal realm of car-porn (automobile advertisements); the real world American automobile space, in which the window becomes a screen, the landscape a televisual image, and the whole car an entertainment center; and the explosive Iraqi automobile space where cars and the road itself explode daily. Our project of setting up a drive-in theatre at traffic stop lights exploits the American televisual automobile space to bring the war home. The traffic light is very much the opposite of the IED: an autonomously acting self-organization of city-space: the traffic light striates space, the IED makes it smooth.
It is not enough just to flood the American auto-visual space with images of the Iraqi one, however. We must insist on destroying the difference: since we are in Iraq for oil, oil we use for our cars, whenever we drive we are always driving in Iraq. The gasoline-powered automobile redistributes subterranean Iraq on the surface of American streets. The mapping of the metropol onto the colony takes place at the level of imagination (the imposition of liberalism, democracy, capitalism as ways of life, the psychological burden of being occupied, etc.) but the mapping of the colony onto the metropol takes place at the level of physical materials. We are not really bringing the war home after all. We are showing that it is already here: we fight it with every mile.
Metropolis "Bayou Fever"
The Beatles. "Why Don't We Do it in the Road" 1968.
Bowie, David. "Changes" from . 1971.
Moreno, Rita. "America" from . 1961.
Nelson, Willie. "On the Road Again" 1980.
Projection Bombing by Graffiti Research Lab
Reclaim the Streets: http://rts.gn.apc.org
Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. "The Smooth and the Striated" in . 1980.