|Andreas Ervik, Monika Grabauschnigg and Marius Presterud, work from the exhibition Incubation Highway.|
Automotive is a hybrid word, combining the ancient Greek word autos self with the Latin derived motive, moving. The word means a self that moves. An automotive individual is a self which moves, a hybrid assembly of humans and cars. The automotive is a specific self, with a moment of birth somewhere in the 1800s, which is now dying. What follows is the story of the incubation highway – the birth, life and death of the automotive self.
DON’T LET THE BABY PUKE ON THE SEAT
Fully formed adult limbs did not spring out, attached to steering wheel, gear stick and pedals. The incubation of the automotive self was an embarrassing infant. It was born out of and gave birth to the embarrassment of being born. This is the embarrassment not simply of your parents having sex to make you, but rather them having soft tissue stretched over bones. What’s even worse is that you have not been assembled. Rather than produced in a factory like a car, you remain humiliatingly bodily.
Here's Why You Get Car Sick: Your Brain Thinks It's Being Poisoned. And your brain is correct in its assumptions. The automotive newborn does not get sick from the speed of travel. The problem is not this old folk notion of souls stuck while bodies race forwards. Horses had more horsepower than the first car engines. The automotive infant gets sick from being spliced onto the vehicle, and from trying to reject this attachment. It gets sick and pukes all over the leather seats, leaving a stain that might never fully wash off.
A NEW TOY FOR YOU, KIDDO!
Vroom vroom – the first almost-words of the kid with its first toy car. Notice how the kid will roll the toy along any surface, back and forward and in circles. The driving is not from and to anywhere. Its driving has no purpose apart from driving. The kid engages the drive simply to move around. A drive to drive.
Swoosh zoom – the next almost-words of the kid. The drive to drive is filled with opportunity of at any point setting off into any direction, including upwards. The car lifts off at any point, repeating the same meaningless circular patterns in the air as it did on the ground. There are no boundaries, the automotive self turns the world into infinite potential for experiencing itself through movement.
HEY GIRL, WANNA GO FOR A RIDE?
The automotive teen girl is picked up after school by that young thug her parents keep warning her about. She listens to rock with him in his car at the overlook. While they make out he gently touches the inside of her thighs, slowly moving his hand up to pull down her panties. This feels too soon. But his car is irresistibly shiny and hard, and I’m horny, so let’s go!
The American settlers were surprised that the natives had not thought to build roads. The natives explained that the continent already had roads, in the form of flowing rivers. The automotive teens laugh at the native’s backwater ways. The highway was incubated, an American dream cutting straight lines of asphalt poured across the continent. The American dream cut straight lines cutting across the landscape, shifting an unthinkable number of packages of meat swiftly and steadily encased in aluminum, copper, steel, glass and rubber, fueled by and travelling on fossil fuel. So sexy!
PUT YOUR SEATBELT ON, SAFETY FIRST
The adult automotive couple really had no intention of getting a car. It’s just that it was practically impossible not to get a car. Cities have long formed around cars, making distances to everything insurmountable by other means. When we got a kid there just wasn’t any other option than becoming automotive. We had to get the cheapest, safest and most practical car for our growing family.
Please don’t judge us to harshly! We recycle and only drive to work and on weekend trips! We always use seat belts and never drink and drive! We know that cars are the disgusting symbols of the past which destroyed our children’s possibilities of a future! We just had no other option!
|Andreas Ervik: Coexist Bumper Sticker, 2020|
I MISS EARTH SO MUCH
The automotive old man reminisces the kid’s infinite potential and the youthful lust. He is embarrassed by the newborn, and the adult defeatism and obsession with safety repulses him. Since he’s about to die anyway he might as well burn out what’s left. And besides, cars are no longer dinosaurs. The old automotive feels young once more, radiant from electric energy.
He listens to his young new affection comforting his fear of death: digital signals filtered into a GPS. This voice tells the way – not home, but into space. Video killed the radio star, and Tesla replaced radios with enormous screens showing what old men typically enjoy: a fireplace and video games. The screen shows the message ‘don’t panic’. It’s there to comfort the guy in the red Tesla roadster launched into orbit (yes there is a dying man inside the space suit in the driver’s seat). The message is also directed to those back on earth: even though I’m old I’m still an angsty young nerd referencing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
The screen now shows the video Elon Musk on William Shatner Singing Elton John's Rocket Man Deepfake: “I miss the earth so much/I miss my wife/it’s lonely out in space/”, sings deepfake Elon rocket man. He misses earth, misses her so so much. But does the old automotive even know what he’s missing, does he even recognize the source of loneliness anymore? How beautiful she was, especially in spring and summer, when plants would grow from moist soil and birds sing to attract mates.
|Andreas Ervik: Fellow Passengers (Swallow's Nest), 2020|
Among the many innovations of the automotive self were the car crash. Colliding with other cars, hurtling into ditches or smashing against buildings, as body parts and organs and bones ripping and twisting and contorting into glass and metal. The horrifying and tragic death of these humans, however, is not the death of the automotive self. Its death can come only from the sweet release of the self-driving car.
The self-driving car might finally set humans free from the hybrid automotive self. The cars drive themselves around, without us. And as we’re longer needed for driving, we no longer need to long for our earth. Without embarrassment we have learned to love her again. Freed from the automotive, we can form new selves with fellow travelers of earth.
(This text was written to accompany the exhibition Incubation Highway. The exhibition is installed in a Tesla and published on Norway's leading online marketplace, finn.no. Incubation Highway is organized by Marius Prestured and features work by him as well Andreas Ervik and Monika Grabauschnigg. The exhibition was commissioned by the online platform Cosmos Carl.)