Speed, Pleasure, Friction
Deniz Kırkalı

Micro gang is the name we give to communities of amateur drivers who get immense pleasure from speed, from the spinning of a car around itself or around determined lines, and from all kinds of sounds it makes. It is, in fact, the name Burak gave them. Yet, this term has made a bigger room for itself in my lexicon (and in my text). The sound of a foot stepping hard on the gas, the smoke and the uncontrollable oscillation of the car was not giving me any pleasure but rather anxiety, nausea and the indescribable feeling I get when something is being wasted and in the meantime something or someone is either hurting itself or others. I guess I initially found these activities to be too masculine for my pursuits of pleasure. And competition has never been a safe area for me.

Members of these micro gangs, to me, were initially people who, rather than questioning or challenging the existence and rigidity of borders and boundaries, accentuated them or shouted out their despair while seemingly pushing the limits. My rational side immediately came up with the word purpose. These were purposeless movements, not getting anywhere but inwardly burning/igniting/smoking. I, on the other hand, felt closer to the engine of the car. I was getting heated, sweating, flooding, making odd noises, and was not making sense of it all.

Then came the aesthetic pleasures that I felt in the videos comprising the body of work titled Static Shifts, Dynamic Rifts. The radius that the wheels of the car spinning around itself draws in the series Circle, the dog tag swaying in a manner that contradicts its masculine nature, the uncanny continuity between the circular movement of the car and the linear cut of the tow truck on the screen in Straight, and the reverse perspective on the glass ball in Oblique. These were giving me pleasure. Then the questions emerged.

What do I (we) have in common with these micro gangs? Do we discover mutual pleasures in everlasting struggles within the same frame, same movement and same purposelessness? Do the members of these micro gangs, the cars they place great demands on and I (we?) just spend all of our energy on similar aimless and half-restrained oscillations without thinking about reaching an endpoint from a fixed place of departure? I know I can’t measure the movement itself, its value and its successes through merely my emotions because I am aware that we are not still even when we’re not reaching anywhere. Therefore, instead of seeking answers, I lean towards multiplying these questions.

Perhaps my own pleasure cultures and those of the micro gangs are not that different from each other. We both like to play games. We are keen on leaving marks. We often disregard the importance of just being without thinking about going from one point to another. Moving (or being unable to move) towards a specific horizon presents itself as another mode of being. The moments of friction between movement and stillness always lead to something else; heat. Does staying still despite the spinning of wheels necessarily lead to a tragic event? Here, I feel I have to acknowledge the erotic connotations of the words speed, pleasure and friction together.

If the car spinning around designated lines emphasizes the continuity and presence of the borders it creates, do our obsessions with production and our constant efforts for productivity define and enhance the borders and boundaries we create for ourselves? Then, what are my boundaries? What are the edges of my body or my perceptions? If the skin sets the limits of bodies which I don’t think it does how can we create new fields of pleasure and ways of being together through challenging these boundaries as well as the limits of bodies or of the cars? Are we crossing any boundaries, or is this yet another illusion? Are we spilling out of our bodies? If the existence of motion or movement does not say much about the distance that’s being covered, and if the movement can only be heard or felt, could keeping on moving or chasing moments of friction be considered as the practice or the production itself? Would applying counter forces to the tension generated by the constant oscillation count as some form of resistance? Then, what if the ultimate point is surrender? When we are after some kind of stability or balance, like the glass ball swaying in the car, do we, in fact, diverge from the movement itself or the present mode of being because of our fear of stillness and reactive tendencies? How do the micro gangs that I partake in define and push the boundaries of our fields of pleasure and play? Do we push hard enough?