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Here in my car

Where the image breaks down

Will you visit me please
If I open my door
In cars

Here in my car

I know I've started to think

About leaving tonight

Although nothing seems right
In cars

Gary Numan, Cars1



Between Gutter & Embankment


Gary Numan seemed to direct his particular serenade to the car to its character as exoskeleton, defensive and protective and at the same time alienating and isolating, strengthening the individual and weakening his capacity for interaction. In a way, as Homer Simpson would have it, “cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems”. As a metaphor, putting to one side the rose, with its colours, perfumes and spikes, there has been no other to equal it. It can channel rebellion and desire for freedom as in “Brand New Cadillac” by Vince Taylor  and later “The Clash”,  ironise about the position of power granted by occupying the driver’s seat as in “Drive” by The Cars, or  highlight the close vicinity between Thanatos and Eros, seen from the perspective of the steering wheel and speed in “Born to Run”, by Bruce Springsteen... 


... But Timsam says that driving bores him, as it bores anyone these days, the suggestion of speed and wind in the hair have been buried under a mountain of laws, traffic jams and cars lacking in personality. Better said, it forces him into boredom in these times when nobody has time for boredom. On account of these remains of asfalt and reflective paint comes this sludge, from this boredom come these works.


We talk a lot about visuality, about its growing importance in this era that we are born into, about visual culture, but in reality we observe very little, almost nothing. It’s comforting as a human collective to think that we develop our intelligence based on labour, the opposing thumb sitting opposite our fingers to improve our millennium is a fact. But there’ s no doubt that laziness and vagrancy are also characteristics of our species, and that they have left their mark on our DNA. We have the ability to look, but we hardly use it. In my Dictionary ‘look’ appears as ”to turn one´s eyes toward something or in some direction in order to see” 


Total attention we only use the first time we see an object, a place or a person, reducing the subsequent experiences to a vague recovery of  the already archived information, and, nearly always, its immediate dismissal due to boredom. This also happens to Timsam. 

1 Gary Numan, Cars, 1979, Beggars Banquet Records.
2 Matt Groening, Los Simpson, temporada 8, episodio 18 Homer contra la decimoctava enmienda, 1997, Fox.
3 Vince Taylor, Brand New Cadillac, 1959, Parlophone.
4 The Clash, Brand New Cadillac, 1979, CBS-Epic.
5 The Cars, Drive, 1984, Elektra.
6 Bruce Sprinsteen, Born to Run 1975, Columbia Records.


Work is against our nature, and the nature of our occipital lobe - that’s in charge of these visual matters and who, of course, takes on the right hassles - and the nature of Timsam when driving his car again and again on the same roads, five times a week, first in one direction and then in the other. I imagine him the first few times, paying attention not to pass the exit, reading what’s on all the blue signs with their arrows at forty-five degrees to the right; I’m sure he doesn’t know the tune, but I imagine him very happily humming Kraftwerk’s ... “fahr’n, fahr’n, fahr’n auf der Autobahn” ... And I imagine, as the days go by and the numbers are piled up in the odometer, paying less and less attention to the stimuli that his eyes send to his occipital lobe, and using instead what he already knows, what he already knows and that bores him, and taking advantage of that time to order his thoughts and visualise those sculptures, waiting in a row inside his head in case they one day become a part the elite of those materialised.


He doesn’t stop seeing the road, the rearview mirror, the steering wheel, the odometer clock ... it’s just that he doesn’t look at them, he doesn’t look at them simultaneously, he simply processes on autopilot while he delights with other things, perhaps with those mental sculptures ... it is a pleasant state of mind ... a dream,  self-absorption ... almost a trance ... one feels fully alive and at the same time disengaged from the vulgarity of the world ... almost like a demiurge, the demiurge of a hundred and twenty kilometres an hour ... until a red light flashes on the dashboard of the mind. 


A run over dog perhaps, or a piece of bumper, a half stripped tire that wasn’t there this morning. On the road everything is the same until it ceases to be so; I’m afraid that those mental sculptures will have to wait, a piece of tire and an elevator jack have found fertile ground in the mind of a driver in trance, also a broken windshield, and a broken off piece of asphalt. I read years ago in a book by Bruce Chatwin, that the aborigines of Australia know where they have to wander when they go on their walkabout by the songs that have been sung to them since they were little, the sung lyrics guide them through their rite, or rather journey, of initiation. Timsam however, found these pieces along the way once he understood that the road is always the same until you learn to look between the slope and the gutter. Now he is composing his song with them.


The experiences awkwardly referred to here and many more are condensed into the amazing picture “Quitamiedos”, taken by Timsam in 2018. Surprising at first glance - on these occasions if one only takes the trouble to look - for it is lacking the coarseness and violence of the sculptural works that accompany it, but surprising above all for its surreptitious reference to the reality from which this artistic project comes in its entirety. The image is traversed horizontally by a galvanised iron barrier guard, which gives way to hills free of drama that rest under a cloudy sky. The captured barrier section is made up of three modules, two of them with the normal colour of the weather-beaten metal and eroded by the passage of time, and a resplendent and new third one, evidently just installed.  


The two ends of galvanised that come out of the photo seem to refer the coming and going by the same path by Timsam, one pointed to Troy and the other to Ithaca, its worn look tells us of the boredom of constant observing, worn by the repetition and the passage of time; then the central piece, immaculate in its surprising industrial perfection, the sudden glimpse renewed by the novelty of the unexpected, the look with which we all look.


7 Kraftwerk, Autobahn, 1975, Philips.
8 “Conducimos, conducimos, conducimos por la autopista”
9 Chatwin, Bruce, The Songlines, Jonathan Cape, Londres, 1987.


Simon Zabell, 2019

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