Mobile Perception and the Automotive Prosthetic

Photoconceptualism, the Car, and the Posthuman Subject

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This essay focuses on a body of photoconceptual works from the 1960s and 1970s in which the automobile functions as a prosthetic-like aperture through which to view the world in motion. I argue that the logic of the “automotive prosthetic“ in works by Paul McCarthy, Dennis Hopper, Ed Ruscha, Jeff Wall, John Baldessari, Richard Prince, Martha Rosler, Robert Smithson, Ed Kienholz, Julian Opie, and Cory Arcangel reveals a techno-genetic understanding of conceptual art, functioning in addition and alternatively to semiotics and various philosophies of language usually associated with conceptual art. These artworks show how the automobile, movement on roads and highways, and the automotive landscape of urban sprawl have transformed the human sensorium. I surmise that the car has become a prosthetic of the human body and is a technological force in the maieusis of the posthuman subject. I offer a reading of specific works of photoconceptual art based on experience, perception, and a posthumanist subjectivity in contrast to solely understanding them according to semiotics and linguistics.

Transfers

Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies

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