Mulholland Drive
Multimedia installation
UCLAs Wooden Center, Los Ángeles, USA, 2004 / Japan Media Arts Festival, Tokio, Japón, 2005

“Mulholland Drive” is a light installation that translates the movement across a topology as two beams of light. Instead of direct human interaction, the work takes the sensed data (tilt, sound, and GPS) of traversing an environment and recreates the experience through angles, light, and sound. We are interested in the passive interactivity of the process—a simple drive along a dynamic highway is automatically read by new media sensor technologies and recreated into an aesthetic experience. With no screen, picture, or perspective, the artwork emphasizes the spatial quality of light…it is cinematic projection without an image. Like cinema, direct data is captured, then edited, and shaped. However, here the environment directly defines the experience, using the geography computationally. “Mulholland Drive” considers how suddenly the rhythms, patterns, and random chance of the environment can be sensed through new media technologies and used to create new forms of visual experience.


Martín Bonadeo: Mulholland drive excerpt from the book Técnica: video

by Javier Villa de Villafañe Translation by Victoria Patience

In a textbook on video artists, Martín Bonadeo would be an anomaly. He doesn't actually use video as a medium and conceptually dismantling video as a format never seems central to his thinking. What’s more, Mulholland drive, the work chosen for this book, isn't even a video.

This anomaly should therefore be read retrospectively, like the third line of a haiku: deliberately going back to the drawing board to rethink the idea of genre as an organizational tool, a tool that is never immaculate but rather riddled with cracks and distortions; another elegant, other-worldly question, how to discipline the aesthetic potential of video beyond the frame itself.

Mulholland drive is a light installation developed by Bonadeo, graphic designer Michael Chu and film producer D. Scott Hessels, as part of the Database Aesthetics course given at UCLA in 2004. As with filmmaking, this piece of work involved a data-capturing process, subsequent editing, and then being shown. However, rather than recording an image, the artists recorded the movement of a car driving down Mulholland drive, the Californian highway known for its twists and turns. The data – the vehicle's direction, location, speed, engine RPM, and inclination – was recorded on a Honda Civic tuned with various sensors and microphones, with the aim of digitalizing and translating the input later on. In a huge university gym sunk in fog and darkness, two robotic lights sending out white beams and two speakers reproducing the sound of the engine recreated this drive along the highway. In this way, the artists tell a story – the projection of a journey by car – which goes beyond the two-dimensional image of cinema so as to be experienced spatially, through an environment. As their language, they use the elements of video that are generally kept hidden from the audience's gaze. Essential elements such as the projection of light, transformed into a significant physical volume; or the projector, which becomes two performing robots possessed by a dance they can't escape.

Bonadeo, Chu, and Hessels suggest a new way of encasing real data, of intervening in our experience outside the screen in order to regurgitate it in physical and sensory surroundings far from the original environment: an aestheticized database and digitalized information in order to generate an act of tele-presence. The spectator melts into the flow of the piece and experiences the story bodily. A beam of light shines through him or her, no longer a medium but a kinetic sculptural object, the main character of the story being told.


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