This may be the first review of an American artform which everyone has seen, but few have discussed: tire shreds. I’m talking about the fragments of automotive tires lying on the shoulders of highways. They are mostly produced by trucks, whose numerous tires often explode, I believe.
These rubber fragments are black, though they differ in shape. One may honestly describe them as “industrial roadkill.” Some resemble the mandibles of giant insects. Others look like flayed arms, eyelashes, the tongues of snakes. Often their edges are frayed. Truckers call them “gators.” Most have an air of dejection, but some raise their “heads” in apparent curiosity.
Tire shreds are artworks created by vehicles themselves, using chance operations like those of the Surrealists. The results are abstract, disturbing: messages from the Unconscious of the American Road. (According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, they are responsible for 20,000 accidents a year — more than any other artform.)