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.
Photoconceptualism, the Car, and the Posthuman Subject
Charissa N. Terranova
The motorcar changed the modern world. While German inventors inaugurated the automotive era in the late 1880s, industrial production was scaled up first in France, followed shortly by the United Kingdom and the United States. Before World War II, the German automotive industry remained small, despite its central role in pioneering the technology. While around 3.8 million cars left U.S. plants in 1928, German manufacturers produced only 108,143 automobiles. The bulk of these vehicles were sold domestically, and as another indication of low German production, American companies built nearly a quarter of the German total in assembly plants they set up across Germany.
Autonomous Driving and the Transformation of Car Cultures
Jutta Weber and Fabian Kröger
This special section on “Degendering the Driver” explores how gender intervenes in the potential shift from a driver-centered to a driverless car culture. It focuses on representations of imagined futures—prototypes, media images, and popular discourses of driverless cars. Following the tradition of feminist cultural studies of technoscience, we ask in our introduction how these new techno-imaginaries of autonomous driving are gendered and racialized. We aim to explore if the future user of an autonomous car is gendered or degendered in the current media discourse. The four articles explore what kinds of images are used, what promises are made, and how the discourse about autonomous driving is influenced by gendered norms. Some authors emphasize that self-driving vehicles could encourage pluralized forms of masculinity. Nonetheless, all authors conclude that driverless cars alone will not degender the driver but rather encourage a multiplication of gendered and racialized technologies of mobility.
This review article gives an overview of the relevant literature about automobile culture inside the former Eastern Bloc. First, researchers have used the history of automobiles to deepen our understanding of socialist consumption practices and the history of everyday life in Eastern Europe. Second, the existing literature on automobilty behind the Iron Curtain focuses on the role that Western automotive knowledge and technology played in socialist car production and usage. Finally, the case of the automobile also offers useful insight into socialist city planning and road building, but these remain understudied aspects.
Manuel Stoffers, Blake Morris, Alan Meyer, Younes Saramifar, Andrew Cobbing, Martin Emanuel, Rudi Volti, Caitlin Starr Cohn, Caitríona Leahy and Sunny Stalter-Pace
Bruce D. Epperson, Bicycles in American Highway Planning: The Critical Years of Policy-Making 1969–1991 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2014), 248 pp., $45
Carlton Reid, Roads Were Not Built for Cars: How Cyclists Were the First to Push for Good Roads & Became the Pioneers of Motoring (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2015), 360 pp., $30
Karen O’Rourke, Walking and Mapping: Artists as Cartographers (London: MIT Press, 2016), 328 pp., £22.95
Jason Weems, Barnstorming the Prairies: How Aerial Vision Shaped the Midwest (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015), 368 pp., 116 b&w photos, 16 color plates, $122.50 (hardback), $35 (paperback)
Christopher Schaberg and Mark Yakich, eds., Airplane Reading (Alresford, UK: Zero Books, 2016), 213 pp., $22.95 (paperback)
Catherine L. Phipps, Empires on the Waterfront: Japan’s Ports and Power, 1858–1899 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015), 308 pp., 6 maps, 3 tables, $39.95
James Longhurst, Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015), 294 pp., $34.95
David N. Lucsko, Junkyards, Gearheads, and Rust: Salvaging the Automotive Past (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), 283 + xii pp., 10 illustrations, $44.95
Steven E. Alford and Suzanne Ferris, An Alternative History of Bicycles and Motorcycles: Two-Wheeled Transportation and Material Culture (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016), 189 pp., $80
Harald Fischer-Tiné, Pidgin-Knowledge: Wissen und Kolonialismus (Zurich and Berlin: Diaphanes, 2013), 104 pp., €10
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (New York: Doubleday, 2016), 320 pp., $26.95
Gijs Mom and Nanny Kim
How topsy-turvy can the world of mobility become? Th e London cab has recently been revived by a Chinese automotive group,1 General Motors had to be rescued by the American taxpayer, and BMW is converting its cars to electricity. In Delhi, after a rape and murder of a woman in a bus, rickshaw pullers introduced “safe for women” rickshaws.2 In Brazil riots against corruption and poverty started in a bus, out of outrage at increased ticket prices.3 In Rio de Janeiro there are three bus accidents per day, in part caused by drivers racing against each other.4 How can we understand the plethora of confusing messages from a world of mobility that seems to spin out of control, more so with every new decade? New Mobility Studies tries to make sense of this turbulence and as editors of Transfers we seek fresh approaches that are not afraid of transgressing boundaries. Th is issue, in which we present scholarship beyond the immediate reach of Western mainstream mobility studies, is an example of such boundary crossing.