UMLAUF Prize 2014: Intermodal Adam Crosson
"With this body of work I seek to negotiate strategies of intermodal freight transport (IFT) with the social and literary theory of negative capability. The literary theory of negative capability was first described by John Keats (1795-1821) as the creative necessity of being comfortable with the unknown. In the late 20th century, Roberto Mangabeira Unger (born 1947) outlined in his social theory of negative capability an individual’s ability to eliminate illusions of social constraints in order to achieve maximum individual freedom.
IFT utilizes multiple modes of transportation to haul freight in standardized intermodal containers, commonly referred to as shipping containers. Goods of varying sizes and shapes are conformed to the internal dimensions of the containers, rendering a systematic uniformity. IFT strategies have decreased the amount of direct human handling of goods in lieu of cranes, hoists, and other large scale mechanized equipment as a way to increase efficiency and safety.
Keats writes that an embodiment of negative capability includes being able to project oneself into different roles, the necessity of indifference, and a presence of insecurity and neurosis. Unger states that negative capability undermines the simplified binary that an individual’s only choices pertaining to social structuring is either assimilation or rebellion. At the heart of negative capability is the discovery and negotiation of internal conflict—of a persistence of social forces, both internal and external, simultaneously attempting to deliver the self into something well defined.
I am seeking a reflexive relationship between efforts to contain and forces pushing against that containment. Where some of my previous works have utilized moving parts, this body of work questions the relationship between movement and stasis by way of the familiar and the speculative. Through a layering of intermodal freight transport and negative capability, I look to create episodes of tension between the processes of transportation efficiencies and the social negotiations of routine and rebellion." - Adam Crosson