Toronto Traffic #1

September 13, 2012 (15:15 to 15:30) late afternoon traffic on highway 427 at Burnhamthorpe (looking South). A major highway in Toronto just before the afternoon rush gets underway.

Just over a century after automobile ownership became affordable, society remains firmly in the grip of car culture. Traffic is concurrently an engineering marvel, a linear dance, an expression of the individual and a subjection to the collective. It is a lens into who we are.

I recorded this with the intent of documenting a moment in time, at what may be near the peak of car culture. In that respect, it offers a rich cross-section of both types of vehicles and the ways we use motorized vehicles to move both people and goods. Yet I am also fascinated by the subtle changes in flow, the way a small delay will bunch vehicles up in a wave that flows back in the opposite direction of travel.

In one way, this scene is one of achievement. Here is the system that is the foundation of most of what we have. Roads lead us to work, to culture, to play, to friends and family. A highway should be a celebration of everything that is good about human achievement. Yet at the same time it is the basis for living out of balance with nature, for wasting millions of hours in the performance of a repetitive task that has no intrinsic value.

Traffic simultaneously reflects both the best and the worst of human achievement.