Rubbernecking is an ongoing project that started in 2003, since when I have been visiting sites represented in the daily newspapers. It takes its title from the American term ‘Rubbernecking’, slang that describes the phenomenon – often associated with car crashes or breakdowns on motorways – where people slow down, crane the neck and strain to look. Rubbernecking proposes a way of looking that is curious and feminine unlike the detached gaze of the male flaneur.
Rubbernecking uses information in the public realm (i.e. a news story) as the impetus to travel to different places. The chosen events vary, not always representing sensational or traumatic occurrences. In the Rubbernecking project there is a lag between the event, the reporting of that event, reading about it in the news and the time it takes to travel to the site. If journalism might be perceived (in part) as the attempt to make us feel close to, or synchronous with an event while remaining objective, Rubbernecking does the opposite; it imposes time and distance between the news-story and place where the newspaper is being read while also acknowledging the subject position of the reader. The project currently takes the form of a series of small publications of various sizes and formats. Each publication presents a different way of analysing the news; in Rolling Riga I followed a news-cycle, walking round Riga for 24 hours waiting for the next edition to appear on the streets, in The Shanghai Week I selected a different news-story everyday for seven days. In Le Notti Di Roma I only visited sites of occurrences that happened at night, while ISIS represents a single event (students jumping off of Magdalen Bridge on May Day 2005) that was reported in every national newspaper on a single day.