blast5 vehicles

Posted by Rhizome | Fri Jan 17th 1997 1 a.m.

Sulan Kolatan and William MacDonald on the blast5 vehicles

In her book entitled "On Longing" Susan Stewart notes that "the
metaphors of the book are metaphors of containment, of exteriority and
interiority, of surface and depth, of covering and exposure, of taking
apart and putting together."

The metaphors of the box, like the book, are metaphors of containment
and miniature. The vehicle, on the other hand, represents a
self-contained world while at the same time availing itself as a means
of transport. The car and the computer terminal are two vehicles. This
categorical doubling puts into question the metaphors of containment
alluded to above.

The late-twentieth century offers a proliferation of such vehicles which
at first glance appear to share certain attributes. Firstly, there is
the presence of interiority, whether it involves the actual provision of
enclosure or merely the referencing of an intimate realm by operating
within close range of the body. Secondly, these vehicular object/spaces
display a distinctly "molded" morphology which in turn is linked to
their relation to the human body, their ability to transport and the
means of production from which they stem. Thirdly, these vehicles are
driven by high speed. Fourthly, they are controlled by small
semi-automatic bodily motions, and so forth. On the other hand, the
spaces across which they transport and the systems that bind them are
gigantic in scale.

Jameson refers to this problem of incommensurability as the fundamental
form problem of the twentieth century. How is the relation between a
large number of very small, very similar entities and colossal
structures presently constructed? The miniature vehicle and the
gigantic spatial structure are programmatically connected through
artificially constructed protocols rather than through a
container/contained relationship. What other scenarios for this
miniature/gigantic interdependency can be proposed? Can the colossal
structure be conceived in terms of the small entities it contains?

[...]

The blast5 vehicles are built in different sizes as formally self-
similar, i.e., similar in quality and quantity of articulation. Rather
than possessing a predetermined scale or significance, the blast5
vehicle assumes a particular scale and significance in association with
(m)any everyday context(s) or in relation to some other thing or space.
This is not to say that it is neutral. On the contrary, it would be
more accurate to describe it as a cumulative index of multiple codes.
This initial generative information has been assembled from a range of
existing transportation/immersion vehicles and their codes and
protocols. Each new vehicle was produced by incorporating several
existing vehicular morphologies (such as a mouse, telephone receiver,
and car seat). Although the latter were selected from a multitude of
scales they were adjusted to each other in size, and their particular
hybridizations were informed by qualitative coincidences of volume and
surface articulations. The potential programmatic appropriation of
these new vehicles--their new identity, as it were--is intended to be
influenced in part by their performance value at varying scales and
within various interrelations of spaces and objects. One such possible
scenario is constructed in the smaller room of the gallery. Here, the
vehicle is present to the visitor as a small object on a table and a
projected architectural interior, in reference to which the object could
also be regarded as a "model." The same set appears to the eye of the
camera as a considerably larger object placed upon what seems to be a
ground merging into the projected space. In addition to these two
situations there are other spatial layers to and from the blast5 web
site, as well as to the stageset vehicle, all of which converge into an
extended feedback system that allows for multiple interventions.

[...]

The blast5 vehicle is a player's item, a user's item, and a collector's
item. In operating in the capacity of varying agencies it is
simultaneously TOY, PROP, INSTRUMENT, OBJECT, and SPACE.
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