Monuments

The images in the series show a world that seems alien, although they spring from perhaps the most common experience one can have in Southern California: driving a car. It is the perspective of the pedestrian that changes orientation. The slow human being, pushed out of the urban space by the spectacle above her head, becomes the discoverer and observer of a dehumanized architecture. These infrastructures of speed and power form gigantic concrete layers that dominate the landscape. They are the “accidental” monuments of the economic system we live in, a system that ignores the environment and human needs in order to provide itself with maximum efficiency.

“Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways”, or commonly known as the Interstate Highway System project started in the 1950s, during the Eisenhower Era. Hitler’s autobahns and its efficiency in World War II influenced Eisenhower to provide key ground transport routes for military supplies and troop deployments in case of an emergency, as well as for commercial use. Assisting the planning of the Interstate Highway System was Charles Erwin Wilson, who was still the head of General Motors when President Eisenhower selected him as Secretary of Defense. This should raise questions about the motives behind the planning of the highways, since Futurama—a one-acre diorama of highways General Motors built to present at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York—reveals the financial interests of the auto industry at the time. Even more questions should be raised considering the fact that the interstate planning caused the dismantling of the streetcars in the cities and led to dependence on personal cars and oil consumption. This new way of transportation was infused into society as a sign of independence and individualism. These advances were made possible through capitalism and the militarization of society.

Interstate from Işık Kaya on Vimeo.

Installation view: Commons Gallery UCSD, 2019