CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

‘It eliminates all diversions, it eliminates all emotions’

Photo by Tom Farrant

Tom Farrant is a photographer in the U.K. who’s been documenting the experience of people in the peculiar form of private space in public; i.e., interiors of cars (viewers of Jacques Tati’s Traffic may recall his montages of a similar variety). The above is a photomontage taken from English motorways. What’s striking, apart from the rather blank (verging to unhappy) expression on most people’s faces, is how many turn to look at the camera (that old “sense of being stared at” trope).

I also couldn’t help think of the song by Black Box Recorder:

The English motorway system is beautiful and strange
It’s been there forever, it’s never going to change
It eliminates all diversions, it eliminates all emotions
(All you got to do to stay alive is drive)

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This entry was posted on Monday, May 17th, 2010 at 9:16 am and is filed under Etc., Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “‘It eliminates all diversions, it eliminates all emotions’”

  1. thm Says:

    This reminds me of Godfrey Reggio’s short film “Evidence”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuI_nCADnW0

  2. Nate Briggs Says:

    The viseral “surge” that people are supposed to feel behind the wheel is something whipped up by marketing wizards, and there is very little evidence for it in real life. Due to the sensory deprivation, automobile travel induces a mild stupor that sometimes crosses over into real sleep. This is part of the explanation for tasks being done while traveling – in the continuing struggle to stay awake.

  3. Adam Says:

    thm got there first…

    I’ve tried doing this in Korea but cars sold here invariably have incredibly (worryingly) dark tinted windows. Anyone know if there’s a limit on how dark car windows can get before they’re a hazard?

  4. Dave in KY Says:

    this is why I stopped. Just 4 miles on the 405 in LA every day was soul-sucking. My friend took it as a personal affront from other motorists when congestion slowed him down, referring to such people as “chumpilstilskins”. I knew there had to be a better way – and there was – the bicycle! :D

  5. Vagabondblogger Says:

    Great BBC TV mini-series called “Collision” examines how a major car accident started. It’s intriguing, and continually throughout the show, has shots / scenes similar to your photo as the detectives try to re-construct the events. (Your photo reminded me of the show.)

  6. Tom Farrant Says:

    I think ‘mild stupor’ is an excellent description of the state of the motorway goer, but this work isn’t a criticism as such, I personally love the long journey’s and the places my mind goes during, it’s one of the reason for the project, any suggestion where it could go next?

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Slate.com Transport column to me at: info@howwedrive.com.

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage: krunde@randomhouse.com.

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency: zoe@zpagency.com.

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau: rhspeakers@randomhouse.com.

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For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

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May 19, 2009
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PRI World Congress
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January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
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Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

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