America felt busy and extra-bright as we drove across Florida, wondering if we might be hit by the debris of a falling Chinese rocket. We shouldered through crowded sidewalks to reach the beach and look at the Atlantic. Then we scrolled through St Augustine, founded in 1565 by some conquistador, now a maze of trinkets and daiquiris, a first draft of New Orleans. Nightfall in Savannah: stone walls and trenches, gangways to restaurants, and a ceiling of Spanish moss.

And oh, the misery of Interstate 95. Two lanes of bumper-to-bumper at ninety miles per hour through Georgia and South Carolina without a single rest area. We sped along memorial freeways named after dead sheriffs. A cryptic sign announced that we were entering the Polymer Alliance Zone. In Columbia, we ate sandwiches and listened to Black Hebrew Israelites in purple gowns lecture the families heading a graduation ceremony. Evangelicals appeared with their sandwich boards and pamphlets. American religion is so loud. Billboards tell us to repent. They tell us hell is real, and because we probably live there already, they tell us to learn more at and follow them on Twitter.

Light the Barricades at the Mint Museum of Art | Charlotte, North Carolina

In Charlotte, we stopped to visit our Light the Barricades project, a series of illuminated walls built from billboard materials that we installed in Los Angeles in 2019. Now they’re here at the Mint Museum of Art, reckoning with the humidity and rain of the southeast. A nearby wedding reception boomed through the night. The deejay made a deft segue between “Atomic Dog” and “it’s time for the percolator” while we photographed our installation on doubt, and it was a beautiful collision of energies, possibly the highlight of my art career. Then came swoopy hills, high winds, and excellent travel plazas on the West Virginia turnpike. Along the way, a woman told me that Americans have a “bullying style of driving” that reflects the national character. I think this is partly true. We’re not all tailgaters and road-ragers. Some of us drift from lane to lane while composing emails, watching videos, or under the influence of sleep aids—which reflects the 21st-century character.

The remains of the Chinese rocket fell to earth somewhere over the Indian Ocean. Now there were reports that hackers seized control of a major pipeline along the eastern seaboard. I put on my mask as I entered a gas station for sugar and caffeine. How do you prepare to live in science-fictional times? Things are speeding up; living today feels like the constant sensation of ninety miles per hour, bumper to bumper, all glare and chrome. Or maybe this is what getting older feels like. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.