Lost Highways, Embodied Travels: The Road Movie in American Experimental Film and Video


Often identified as one of the most genuine and enduring American film genres, the road movie has never been explored in the context of experimental filmmaking. To fill this gap, Lost Highways, Embodied Travels provides the first book-length study of over eighty unique and often obscure films and videos and situates them within the corporeal turn in American avant-garde cinema, so far mostly associated with body genres and sexually explicit films. Drawing on unpublished archival materials, the book offers a fresh take on both past and current practices of the experimental film community for scholars, students, makers and film buffs.

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Kornelia Boczkowska, Ph.D. (2015), is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of English at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan. She has received several research grants and is the author of two books and over forty other publications on independent, experimental and avant-doc film.
List of Illustrations

 1 Lost Highways, Embodied Travels: The Structure of This Book

1 The Road Movie and the Corporeal Turn in Experimental Film
 1 The Road Movie as a Mainstream Film Genre
 2 The Road Movie as an Experimental Film Genre
 3 The Corporeal Turn in Experimental Film
 4 The Road Movie and the Corporeal Turn in Experimental Film

2 Embodied Travels
 1 Cars and the Body
 2 “I Like to Remember Things My Own Way”: Saul Levine’s Mortgage on My Body
 3 Life Shooting and a Road Movie-Therapy-Performance: Anne Charlotte Robertson’s Niagara Falls
 4 Intuitive Travels: Gary Adlestein’s S-8 Diary: Wildwood 2/88
 5 Unmediated Encounters with the World: Dana Play’s Kongostraat
 6 Motorcycles and the Body
 7 Fading Memories of a Honeymoon Trip: Brian Patrick’s Honey/Moon
 8 “Gotta Get Outta Here”: Charlemagne Palestine’s Island Song
 9 Cars and Relationships
 10 Intimacy That Never Is: Sophie Calle’s No Sex Last Night
 11 Depopulated Highways, Empty Hotel Rooms, and Unfulfilled Intimacy: Donald Winkler’s Travel Log
 12 Female Bodies, Automobiles, and a Failed Lesbian Relationship: Su Friedrich’s Rules of the Road
 13 Two Female Hitchhikers, an Escapist Driver and a Sexual Awakening: Siouxzi Mernagh’s Exit
 14 Break Ups, Reminiscences, and Ghosts of the Past: Walter Ungerer’s Down the Road
 15 The Ups and Downs of Female Solitary Travel: Jessica Bardsley’s Goodbye Thelma
 16 Romance in the Digital Age: Michael Robinson’s Onward Lossless Follows
 17 Conclusion

3 Americana, Canadiana, Native Americans, and Eco-Road Movies
 1 Americana
 2 A Testimony to Chance Encounters: Chris Mullington’s Americans (Mer-Kins)
 3 The End of the American Dream: Chip Lord’s Motorist
 4 A Country of Contradictions: Lluis Escartín’s 75 Drive-a-Way
 5 A Disturbing Portrait of America: James Benning’s North on Evers
 6 In Search of American Counterculture: James Benning’s Easy Rider
 7 A Nostalgic Evocation of the Frontier: Bill Brown’s XCTRY
 8 Canadiana
 9 A Dead-End Trip: Philip Hoffman’s The Road Ended at the Beach
 10 Roads Where Nothing Ever Happens: Clive Holden’s Bus North to Thompson with Les at the Wheel
 11 The History of Canadian Roads Told … Backwards: Michael Snow’s Seated Figures
 12 Native Americans
 13 “The Dream of America That Never Came True”: Bruce Baillie’s Mass for the Dakota Sioux and Quixote
 14 A Poignant Ode to the Ho-Chunk People and Their Language: Sky Hopinka’s Jáaji Approx.
 15 Eco-Road Movies
 16 An Ascetic Roughness of Land and Nature: Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson’s Mono Lake
 17 A Nervous Pean to the New Zealand landscape: Lissa Mitchell’s Bowl Me Over
 18 A “Trans-Corporeal” Experience of Rural Ireland: Julie Murray’s Orchard
 19 An Ominous Terror of Ecocide, Or the Doomsday that Never Was: Fern Silva’s Tender Feet
 20 Conclusion

4 Lost Highways
 1 Interstate Highways
 2 The Thrill of the Open Road: Hilary Harris’ Highway
 3 The Magic of Road Building: Anna Geyer’s Dozer
 4 American Freeway, Private Prisons, and the Dark Side of Automobility: James Schneider’s Median Strip
 5 The Crisis of Automobility: Emma Piper-Burket’s Driving Dinosaurs
 6 Highway Landscapes and Local Roads
 7 A Silent Spectacle of Death: J. J. Murphy’s Highway Landscape
 8 Countryside Highways and the Suspension of Movement: James Benning’s Small Roads
 9 An Australian Rural Dirt Road in 360: Blake Williams’ Coorow-Latham Road
 10 Conclusion

5 Through the Windshield
 1 Framed Views
 2 The Paradoxes of Movement: Gary Beydler’s Pasadena Freeway Stills
 3 Multiple Views of a Seashore Landscape: Ken Kobland’s Frame
 4 Across America in Suspended Motion: Ken Kobland’s Landscape and Desire
 5 Driving Meditation: Al Wong’s Twin Peaks
 6 Windshield Views
 7 The Icelandic Highway and the Sensation of Velocity: Þór Friðriksson’s Hringurinn
 8 A Roller-Coaster Ride Down the Trans-Canada Highway: Stephen Arthur’s Tran Scan
 9 A Full-Body Immersion in the Western Canadian Landscape: Stephen Arthur’s Vision Point
 10 Driving on a Rainy Day
 11 Driving in a Thunderstorm and Female Mobility: Faith Arazi and Madeleine Mori’s Through a Field
 12 A Mesmerizing Movement of Raindrops on the Car Windows: Ann Deborah Levy’s Rain Painting
 13 The Wiper’s Swing and an Erratic Ride on a Vancouver City Bus: Chris Gallagher’s Seeing in the Rain
 14 Squirming Raindrops and a Bleak View of the Frontier: Bruce and Lorie Baillie’s Commute
 15 Car Crashes
 16 From Violent Death to Creative Transformation: Robert Nelson’s Hot Leatherette
 17 A Crash into the Driver-Car’s Mind: Eric Patrick’s Stark Film
 18 A Near Deadly Crash and the Afro-American Experience: Paige Taul’s The Promise
 19 The Tourist Gaze
 20 A Flashy World of Clichés and Hasty Sight-Seeing: Barbara Hammer’s Tourist
 21 The Hustle and Bustle of Being on the Move and Haptic Aurality: Christina Battle’s Traveling thru with Eyes Closed Tight (Map #2–January 03 thru January 06)
 22 Conclusion

6 Through the Side Window
 1 Fleeting Impressions of Canada: Joyce Wieland’s Reason Over Passion
 2 Culture Clash and Embodied Memories of Vietnam: Lynne Sachs’ Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam
 3 Scattered Recollections of a Family Vacation: Michael Stickrod’s Vacation Tapes
 4 Driving and Landscape Painting
 5 Impressionist Views of the Country Barn: Larry Gottheim’s Barn Rushes
 6 The Color Field Painting on Interstate 5: Martha Rosler’s Flower Fields
 7 Still Lifes of the Swedish Rural Countryside: Gunvor Nelson’s Light Years
 8 A Cathartic Road Trip and Impossible Panoramic Vistas of the American Southwest: Peter Rose’s The Geosophist’s Tears
 9 Driving in the Desert
 10 Seeing with a Filmmaker’s Eyes: Stan Brakhage’s Visions in Meditation #2: Mesa Verde
 11 A Spiritual Encounter with the Divine: Jon Behrens’ Desert Abstractions
 12 The Uncanny Desert Glare: Cathy Lee Crane’s On the Line
 13 An Apocalyptic Mediation on the American Wilderness: Kate McCabe’s You and I Remain
 14 “The Intense Reality of Desert” and the Juju Charms: Apostoly Peter Kouroumalis’s Desert Road
 15 City Driving
 16 Flows, Rhythms and Textures of New York City: Marie Menken’s Go! Go! Go!
 17 The Whirling Streets of New York City: Bill Morrison’s City Walk
 18 Glimpses into the Streets of San Francisco’s Latino Mission: Martha Rosler’s Secrets from the Street: No Disclosure
 19 Inside the Driver-Car’s Mind: Steven Woloshen’s Shimmer Box Drive and Zero Visibility
 20 An Exquisite Road Trip Across Four Continents: EXcinema’s The Spaces Between Cities
 21 Driving at Night
 22 A Vibrant Light Show of Chicago’s Nightlife: Mort and Millie Goldsholl’s Night Driving
 23 A Hypnotizing Collage of Seattle’s Nocturnal Lighting: Jon Behrens’ The Movement of Light at Night
 24 A Head-On Confrontation with the Speeding Highway: Bill Morrison’s Night Highway
 25 A Sinister Night Drive and a Mysterious Owl: Michaela Grill’s Carte Noire
 26 Conclusion

7 Inside Cars
 1 Mirrors, Windows, and (Movie) Screens
 2 A Haunting Ride to a New Orleans Cemetery and Back: Bill Morrison’s Ghost Trip
 3 An Eerie Venture into the Cockpit and the Driver’s Mind: Jon Behrens’ The Colors of Boulder in the Summer
 4 By the Side Window
 5 A Cinematic Gaze, Automotive Visuality, and Blues Improvisation: Larry Gottheim’s Harmonica
 6 A Claustrophobic Car Interior … After Dark: Saul Levine’s Driven
 7 From the Back Seat
 8 An Eventless Drive Around Downtown Manhattan … Over and Over Again: Alfred Leslie and the Frank O’Hara’s The Last Clean Shirt
 9 An Aimless Journey across the Country: James Benning’s The United States of America
 10 A Perception-Altering Tour of Canada and the United States: Chris Gallagher’s Undivided Attention
 11 Backseat Passengering
 12 A Bumpy Ride and the Impossible Sublime: Lluis Escartín’s Mohave Cruising
 13 Cross-Eyed Viewing of the Bay Bridge: Ken Jacobs’ Berkeley to San Francisco
 14 Conclusion



Targeted primarily at American, film and media studies scholars and students in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Besides the academic audience (libraries, students and scholars), it should appeal to a broad spectrum of readers, ranging from filmmakers, artists and archivists to film buffs and anyone whose interests revolve around American studies as well as the history and practice of experimental film- and road movie making. The book’s handbook-like format is also likely to support teaching, learning and research at any university and can be used by both scholars and students enrolled in courses taught in the arts, humanities and social science degree programs.
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