The Second City

The Second City, 2010
Video and Sound Installation
58 minutes, looped

Vaughn Whitney Garland


Using screen captures of Google streetview, The Second City follows the desolate, abandoned road, originally constructed to connect the planned community of California City, CA with a sister expansion community, now known simply as “the second city.” Developed in the mid-1960s, the landscape of the second city includes paved and named streets; however, homes and buildings were never constructed, as the area’s popularity never matched the expectations of the developer.

The Google street view application is created using series’ of still images taken by a 360 degree camera attached to a roving Google vehicle. Viewers can navigate these images, which are seamlessly linked together, traveling from place to place by clicking forward into represented pace. The 688 images that comprise The Second City are computer desktop screen shots that capture the transition from one still image to the next. Rather than representing the photographs taken by the Google car camera, the video links the transient in-between moments created as the application processes user commands.

The audio component accompanying the video is a manipulation of the soundtrack from the 1959 post-apocalyptic film On the Beach, directed by Stanley Kramer.  Most of the dialogue and music from the film has been stripped away, leaving behind mysterious ambient sounds, which have been composed and looped into an eerie, syncopated rhythm. The enigmatic audio belies the film’s storyline, which follows the fate of the people who live in a small Australian town, the last bastion of humanity that will inevitably succumb to a cloud of nuclear fallout. The town’s inhabitants, despite knowing their fate, continue to live as if nothing is wrong.


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