Uneasy Ride – Chasing Freedom, Facing Devastation

My Master of Arts thesis for Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture is called Uneasy Ride. It consists of an artistic part, a cinematic installation, and a written part called Uneasy Ride: Chasing Freedom, Facing Devastation, presented in the form of a 80-page book. Completed in September 2018.

A batch of thesis books fresh from the press.

Abstract

This thesis examines the essential themes of the road movie film genre and their relation to certain contemporary issues and my own artistic practice. The point of view is that of a visual artist who works with moving image and sound and who reveres sovereignty and equality, suffers from climate anxiety and drives an automobile. In addition to the written part, the thesis consists of an artistic production which is a video installation.

The research material consists of a selection of films, beginning with classic American road movies. The thesis also examines a number of films that are not road movies per se, but they serve as a continuation of the themes, illustrating a vision of a near future that is undesirable but at worst inevitable. Additionally the text examines selected experimental films that are either relevant to the subject matter or influential to the author’s working methods and aesthetic practices. The literary research material includes books and articles that elaborate on the themes brought forth in the films from various points of view.

The research begins with various phenomena influential to the emergence of the road movie genre, from the developments in cinema and technology to the counterculture movements of the 1960s. The themes selected for further study are the pursuit of freedom, the rebellion, and the transformation of the passenger enabled by the journey. The themes are entwined with the Western notions of freedom and the human condition, the long history of consciousness expansion, and environmental disasters.

Additionally the text describes the two-channel video installation also called Uneasy Ride. The artistic process at the crossroads of image, sound and the selected themes is discussed. Most of the material for the work was filmed on the road. The filming trips and the writing overlapped and influenced each other, in particular the experiences of being on the road sustained the written part.

The written part of the thesis uses the films as a metaphor of the human condition and the current global problems surrounding us. The artistic part attempts to communicate on an emotional level and by audiovisual means something unattainable by words alone.

The mind works in mysterious ways

I’m currently working on my Master’s thesis for ViCCA/Aalto University, it deals with road movies to some extent, obviously with related reading, writing, watching and filming on the to do list…

The other day, taking the usual procrastinatory detour, I checked some news headlines and learned that Malcolm Young had passed away. (Well, sir, have a fine and restful journey onward and thanks for laying the major cornerstones for hard & heavy rock with the juggernaut called AC/DC.)

While finding my way back from the data swamp to actual tasks at hand, I again remembered a film I had partially seen way back but didn’t know the name or any details about it. Call it obsessive or whatever, but I often get these little flashbacks from films that I’ve forgotten about; not knowing what films they are or how to successfully find info on them is somewhat frustrating, and they keep haunting me.

Anyways, this particular flick, or at least the parts I remember, deals with highways in the American desert and a sort of demon cop driving a police car in pursuit of someone or something. Well, cars, highways and the desert relate to my thesis, so I thought why not try to check out again if I managed to find it this time around. Googling for demon cop, police car, desert, highway etc. and wow, this time I actually get what I was looking for!

So it seems the film is Highway to Hell! Synchronicity, coincidence, whatever you want to call it, but I’m certain the news about mr. Young triggered a chain of events in the subconscious mind.

The AC/DC classic is featured on the film trailer as well…

Looking forward to watching this undoubtedly fine piece of early 1990’s B-grade horror cheese, all of it this time around. (Well, shot 1989 but first released 1991 to be exact.)