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 not being able to move) towards a cer­tain hori­zon presents itself as anoth­er mode of being. The moments of fric­tion between move­ment and still­ness always leads 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 bound­aries of my body or my per­cep­tions? If the skin sets the bound­aries 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?