outside the box
are for your protection
the loop (by
wendy mcmurdo & paul holmes
In September 2010, with only 1 year's experience, 13 year old Paige Wheeler became the youngest ever European Junior Drag Racing Champion.
At regular race meetings during the summer season, hours of preparation culminate in eight seconds of critical psychological, physiological, electronic and mechanical activity. This is both a portrait of Paige and a study of the rarified process that has made her a champion.
Since the invention of cinematography, artists have followed Edweard Muybridge in exploring human perception of
time and motion, phenomena that are critically bound up in this purest and most psychological form of motor racing.
In the drag race, human and machine, appear to become one. It is not just a matter of speed or even reaction time. Wait for the green light and you have already lost; the racer must somehow predict when the light will come on and she has to press the throttle.
At the heart of this video work is the ability of the athlete, in this case the driver, to perceive, merge with, and seemingly harness time. Hours of preparation merge into just a few seconds in a high-speed series of still images on one screen, while, in the other, the eight second race is spun out in extreme slow-motion to an imperceptible two-hour duration. Preparation and execution times warp and change places in a giddy distortion of temporality that echoes the perceptual shifts and manipulations of the driver.
Work in progress. Grateful thanks to Andy and Paige Wheeler and family. Cinematography: Ian Dodds.
Website and all images and text, unless otherwise attributed, © 2020 Paul Holmes.