Demolition Derby

Robert Hamilton

2000, 03:50 minutes, colour, english/dutch


Demolition Derby is a study of two actual demolition derbies held annually in Southern Ontario, Canada. A demolition derby is a sport where drivers attempt to demolish the cars of opposing drivers by ramming eachother. The last car able to move, wins. The video employs bursts of images and audio to construct a visceral, dynamic reflection on the spectacle itself. There is a sense of sportsmanship, anticipation, tension, fire, steam, gunning engines, smashing metal, screaming crowds, a chaotic and surreal exhibition.
Demolition Derby is about extending a visual sensibility concerning moving images by simplifying the manner in which the images were captured. Although digital in all aspects of production, the concept by which this video was made is much closer to the origins of cinema than contemporary video. Images were shot manually, independent of each other, then carefully edited together to create the illusion of movement.

This work has grown out of a trajectory of animation & time-lapse studies which I began doing a few years ago. It started with a GameBoy Camera and scanning the stickers it creates, then a Web Cam connected to a laptop, and more recently a digital still camera. The idea has always been to be mobile and discreet, collect images from real life, and to string the images together in to some sort of animated and cohesive whole. I’ve chosen a tool, a digital still camera that is somewhat intimate or at least does not invade privacy in the same way as a person carrying around a video camera does. The audio is recorded separately and has a contrapuntal relationship with the images.

The technique used in all of my recent work is pixillation animation or time-lapse animation. Which in this case means it is shot frame by frame with a digital still camera on a tripod. The shooting is a laborious process: a day shoot typically results in one minute of video. This work can be displayed either as single channel or as an installation.

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