405 North, 405 South, 2003
This is supposed to be a video of the 405 freeway (in Los Angeles, CA, USA) in evening rush hour. In fact, however, what appear to be headlights and taillights are rows of shiny silver and red Christmas beads, illuminated by strong halogen lights that make the beads sparkle in the dark. The beads are slowly pulled in opposite directions by hand on a black tablecloth. The video alludes to my sense of despair while driving from one university to the next to teach, and the sense of both dislocation and connection I feel when my body traverses long distances very, very slowly. It is also meant to express the strange and poetic beauty of this slow flow of headlights and taillights resembling rivers of glowing lava or brilliant strings of diamonds and rubies. My strategy of representation was to literalize the metaphors through a metonymic slide of concrete associations: the lights look like brilliant rivers of diamonds and rubies, which look like lit Christmas garlands, therefore the freeway IS Christmas garlands. The soundtrack is the popular song “Adjunct Lover,” composed, recorded and performed in Greek by Moissis Asser. (Echo of Stevie Wonder’s Part-Time Lover.) The ballad-like music suggests the activity of listening to CDs while driving and the strange sentimentality associated with driving alone and meditating on one’s origins in distant parts of the world (Greece). Please note that the language of the song is intentionally untranslated, with the final music credit ADJUNCT LOVER acting as linguistic index, pointing a) to the working conditions of adjunct professors and b) to sexuality (“lover”).