Poi.n-t (Place of Impact. Net-Transfer)

Poi.n-t (Place of Impact. Net-Transfer) is a project that exhibited for the final time at RAID Projects in Los Angeles in 2004. For the previous 5 years, KIT had been working with the notion of the crash, the theology of the ejector seat, Western sacrificial culture and transient architectures as a set of themes for a line of work which used elements of crashed planes and cars. For the work with crashed cars, airbags were often used as items which symbolised the duelling narratives of safety, controlled inbuilt violence and the transgression of static bodies and architectures.

Through working with Autoliv in Melbourne, Australia and our own research into the development and use of airbags, a number of compelling and contentious issues were revealed concerning the injury, pain and death caused by safety systems such as the airbag. Airbags deploy in about 0.06 seconds at speeds of over 200mph and with a force of 2600 lbs per sq inch of pressure behind them. They must be this quick because the typical automobile collision lasts about 0.125 seconds and unprotected occupants will hit the vehicle's interior before the primary impact is over. Deployment is effected by a gas generator which usually employs the combustion of a pellet (a small contained explosion) of sodium azide (also known as rocket fuel) to produce the volume of gas required. The airbag must begin to deflate by the time the body hits it. Otherwise, the high internal pressure of the airbag creates a surface as hard as stone.

The pyrotechnic nature of current airbag systems also results in adverse effects. Localized burns may occur as a result of direct exposure of the skin to hot exhaust gases. Minor injuries to the face and upper extremities are common as a result of direct contact by the deploying airbag fabric, the so called phenomenon of ‘bag slap’. Occasionally more serious injuries are found to occur. One specific concern is the occurrence of fractures to the upper extremities. The latter may occur as a result of interaction of the airbag, the driver's hand, and the steering wheel system or by direct contact with the airbag module's cover during deployment. Fractures to the arms may also result indirectly by the deploying airbag causing the arms to flail and strike portions of the vehicle interior. Incidents of 'alkaline eye' are also of concern as they can result in visual impairment. Contact by the airbag to the head and face normally results in only minor to moderate injuries; however, there is a potential for more serious trauma. For instance, should significant hyperextension of the neck occur, there is a possibility of cervical spine fracture.

The inherent contradictions contained within a safety system which causes many injuries are revealings of a culture’s priorities and sacrifices to dominant narratives and economics. All of the 5 works in the series of Poi.n-t installations utilise the airbag in video, sound and material form yet they all appear and sound different from each other. For the Side Street projects exhibition, 2,600 lbs of flour is used referring to the airbags velocity of 2,600 lbs of pressure per square inch when it is released. In another show at Blasthaus in San Francisco, the show consists of a circular slowed down video projection of an airbag test, where the bag inflates and deflates as if breathing very slowly, in a permanent rhythmical state of impending collision.

Poi.n-t (Place of Impact. Net-Transfer) exhibits at the following galleries -

2004   Raid Projects (Los Angeles, USA)
2001   Galerie Articule (Montréal , Canada)
           Side Street Projects (Los Angeles, USA)
           High Street Projects (Christchurch, New Zealand)
2000   Blasthaus (San Francisco, USA)