2.11 Incarceration Vacation

Enjoying the Ride
Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life explores the everyday operating in society. He describes strategies and tactics that identify behaviors in the everyday. Strategies become a way for corporations, governments and big businesses to control people as well as the environment around them. Tactics are ways that individuals negotiate these worlds. Certeau claims, “individuals employ strategies by constantly manipulating events in order to turn them into opportunities.” Certeau describes the experience of riding the train as an example of the chasm between the strategy and the tactic: the train is a strategy—it is part of a larger system that incarcerates passengers. However, I feel that a passenger like myself can use tactics to overcome this system, making each trip a mini-vacation of sight and sound.

Slice of Time
Certeau eloquently describes the literal and figurative separation of the train and the travelers as “The iron rail whose straight line cuts through space and transforms the serene identities of the soil into the speed with which they slip away into the distance. The windowpane is what allows us to see, and the rail, is what allows us to move through.” Travelers are incarcerated within a controlled system, and at the same time, they are set free by a sensorial experience.

The repetition of the commute has become a compressed slice of time for me. Incarceration Vacation visualizes this concept through video, simultaneously capturing both the interior of the train car and the view out the window. In both the interior and the exterior, video time is compressed. The interior view is sped up, showing only one frame for every thirty-seconds of footage. The exterior view compresses into a one-pixel vertical slice per video frame; thus, visualizing the landscape similar to an impressionist painting.

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