Autoskinning: Passive Abduction

This project begins in 2001 at the Blue Oyster Gallery in Dunedin, New Zealand. Developed alongside other projects dealing with similar themes of the ‘crash’ and ‘sacrificial economies’, Autoskinning: Passive Abduction goes on to become the largest scale and most ambitious project in terms of technology and funding needed to make it happen and work.

Questioning the role of the car as a transient architecture of transformation and transgression in the event of a crash, we start visiting automobile scrap yards. We are looking for one type of car, the kind that has had human fatalities in it due to an accident. Scrap yard dealers know what has happened to the cars in their yards, especially if they have been involved in such an event. Akin to skinning a dead animal, the insides of these cars are stripped completely of their interior materials such as – seat upholstery, seat belts, airbags and carpets. These materials will all be turned inside out or reversed and sewn together to produce ‘Autoskins,’ cocoon / chrysalis like forms which also resemble body-bags.

As the project travels, more scrap yards are visited and the collection of ‘Autoskins’ increase. In each venue it travels to it is installed differently, but has certain elements that re-appear over the course of the 3 years it tours. For many installations, motors are placed in the bags, which cause the bags to flinch when they are approached as if life-forms inhabit them. Protruding from the bags are rubber tubes which feed into the galleries architectures – the walls, floor and ceiling. A relationship is suggested between the transient architectures of the bodybags / cocoons and the stable architecture of the gallery, yet it is difficult to work out which is feeding from which. Flour appears beneath the bags, which are hung up via seat belts either from the ceiling or from metal tubular frameworks. The flour appears to be substance emanating from the ‘Autoskins’, again a suggestion that something is living within the cocoon / body-bag forms. The flour is a reference to the fact that tiny pouches of it are used in cars to help aid the release of an airbag from its plastic holder behind a dashboard or steering wheel, in the time of a crash.

Autoskinning: Passive Abduction by name and strategically via the way it is installed references 1970’s Science – Fiction ‘B Film’ sets. A film such as Invasion of the Bodysnatchers is maybe the most obvious reference to a movie which deals with the social and political fears of a nation who are paranoid about being transformed into the social and personal body of the ‘other’ against their will. In the case of Bodysnatchers, the ‘other’ is the automaton of communism. For Autoskinning: Passive Abduction it is the transformation of the body from one state to another through the spectacle of the car crash. The difference here however, is that Autoskinning does not suggest fear and paranoia as the functioning economies of the narrative action and instead invites the transformation, suggesting that the crash is an implemented ritual of sacrifice within Western culture that we already live and travel through.

Autoskinning: Passive Abduction No.1-7 exhibits at the following galleries –

2003   Axe Néo 7 (Gatineau, Canada)
2002   Espai d’Art Contemporain (Castelló, Spain)
           DiverseWorks (Houston, USA)
           Southern Exposure (San Francisco, USA)
2001   Latitude 53 (Edmonton, Canada)
           Canberra Contemporary Art Space (Canberra, Australia)
           Blue Oyster Gallery (Dunedin, New Zealand)