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.

3.0 Next Stop

For two years, I’ve commuted to Grad school from Boston to Providence by rail. The initially redundant trip has become a peaceful, productive and integral part of my creative process. Today I’m headed home, thinking about a conclusion for my thesis. The train tracks whizzing below me are an endless ribbon, a mobius strip, taking people by the thousands where they need to go. I see the continuation of my design career as an endless ribbon also—countless permutations of my own methodology that I grappled with, explored and unpacked in this thesis. I plan to “look closely,” and absorb the inspiration that is all around me, all around us, using different media as input and output, and blurring boundaries between mediums to create what will become known as 21st century design. The end of this book is just another stop along the way. All Aboard.

The next stop begins (6.11.2012) when I start my new full-time position at Fathom.

Thanks for reading. My entire thesis is outlined on this blog (starting at 0.0 Abstract and ending this post 3.0 Next Stop). Look for new work soon. Cheers, James