Speedfactory

by Bernard Cohen, John Kinsella, McKenzie Wark and Terri-Ann White


Extract from Speedfactory, Game #2 (Cohen & Wark)

Despite our APEX expectations of Paris, the destination marker sits squarely over London. We passengers stare at the video projection screen, willing the plane to change course, to fly towards the indicated landing point instead of along this unpredicted hypotenuse. We are veterans of too many airport movies and too many video games, and there is a ridiculous terror in the GAME OVER outcome which must follow this. The seemingly mis-aimed icon follows its passage between the warzones: Da Nang, Kabul, Baghdad, Kharkov. These are the recognisable names between Bali and Athens.

An announcement: the pilot assures us we are not flying to London: Paris is a new route, and Zero Point Paris has yet to be programmed into the system. Hmmmn. It could be me alone, but I imagine row after row of tightened, doubting lips. Our symbol sits still on the screen, or jerks forward pixel by pixel.

As we get closer to northern France, the skew path becomes more disturbing; I am more disturbed by it. Despite the pilot's soothing techno-talk and, on-screen, battle markers superseded by wine-producing centres and punctuated by the periodic stillness of the airline logo, all purity (the round-ended metal tube, evenly spaced passengers struggling for sleep positions, weighed meal portions on rectangular trays, flight attendants' perfectly practised routines) is gone, muddied by this minor techno-gap. We descend, the altitude measure dropping at near enough to 10m/s, the distance from destination almost unaltered. Switch it off! I brace as the altitude falls below three hundred metres. I'm gripping the armrests, pushing myself back against the upright seat, telling myself: come on, relax, relax, it's routine. The screen eventually goes blank. And as usual I'm thinking about farewell notes, who should be mentioned.

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