2004 Rockefeller New Media Foundation Proposal
McCoy, Jennifer and Kevin
Traffic is a robotic video installation that miniaturizes and automates the entire film production process to produce a story that examines the culture of the car, comparing it to the culture of cinema and computer networks. As our cinematic starting point, we will examine and recreate iconic elements of the chase scene, the road movie, the drag race, and the traffic jam. We will use custom computer software to control small moving cameras, moving set elements, and recorded dialog so that a short narrative can be projected in front of the viewer as they watch. The small, dollhouse scale set allows the viewer to spatially explore what they experience temporally through the video projection. We are interested in using computer technology to investigate what is called "film magic"- the propensity of even the most sophisticated viewer to understand and, at the same time, be drawn in by illusionistic cinematic effects. Traffic will create and reveal these effects simultaneously with their product. Newer media is often used to understand the cultural conventions of older forms. The history of industrialization and mechanization has often succeeded in miniaturizing, streamlining, and automating complex processes. We are interested in both the mythology of progress this presents and in the inherent pathos of its inhumanity. Traffic, by placing these metaphors of data flow and mechanical automation within a narrative framework, will underline the double nature of this mythology of progress.