Walk-In Drive-In


World Premiere
Adelaide Festival 2006

Walk-In Drive-In is an immersive, interactive artwork in which sculpture, sound and video behave as inter-textual and interactive elements around the themes of suburbia and suburban living. Made in collaboration by NYID AD David Pledger with visual artist Callum Morton, Walk-In Drive-In used the architectural and social landscapes of the drive-in to investigate suburban life in the latter half of the 20th C.

Walk-In Drive-In is a split-level structure comprising an interior space and an exterior space. The interior space is 7.6 metres by 3.8 metres in dimension. The entry to this room is through a narrow, 3-metre corridor which the audience enters from a darkened foyer. The walls and the corridor are mirrored and a 3-step ziggurat sits centrally within the room. By standing on the ziggurat, the audience has an eye-level, panoramic view of the external space which is a scale version of a drive-in: two active screens, vertical stands for sound-speakers and a projection-house. The viewer is aware that their head is actually inside the projection-house, in fact, a model of de Corbussier's 1929 modernist house, Villa Savoy. One understands this, in part, through the viewing experience underneath, although most profoundly when seeing the work in the external space.

Built into the walls and abutting the ceiling of the interior room on the long sides are small, rectangular windows which enable the audience inside the room to see out, and the audience in the external space to see in. This feature echoes the audience's experience of the view of the drive-in from the projection house, and amplifies one's sense of the cohesion of the elements. At either end of the interior room, a set of stairs allows for audience access to and from the interior space, and into and out of the exterior space of the drive-in. Once the audience are in the exterior space they are able to see simultaneously the images projected onto both screens and the viewer inside the projection-house. This dual viewing mode offers the possibility of the viewer literally entering the sculptural field as a scopic giant, and then viewing it from a distance.

The film language comprises original film leader, computer-generated film leader, block colours and images from drive-in movies selected by genre: action, horror, soft-porn, suspense. There are two films which play simultaneously on the two screens. The films are cut to a sound design featuring sound effects related to the images and a foundation-sound which is a 5-minute tonal scape amplifying the frequency of a standard television test-pattern signal. The two films are cut to different lengths and are synchronised to finish looping together at 25 minutes. One film plays five times, the other 6 times to ensure a random visual effect. This visual structure is interrupted between 2:00 and 3:00 in the looping foundation-sound when both screens play the same images at the same time for one minute. This structure builds into the viewing experience a constant state of arousal and release.