The Carnival Project – “Midway”

Multi-channel Video and Digital Photographs (2010)


About the Project

“Midway” is created from footage and images captured at state and county fairs in Indiana and South Carolina. Multi-channel videos examine the impromptu performances, staged competitions and visceral revelations that attendees experience while riding Carnival rides. Sound for these videos is by Ted Coffey. The show also consists of photographs that document the desolate stages and booths at the peripheries of these fairs.

Individual Pieces

- Pharoah’s Fury – 2 channel 9′ x 9′ projections
Opposing projections exploring performance and competition in Pirate Ship rides.

- Gravitron – 2 channel high-definition video – 4 minutes
Found choreography by non-dancers as they resist and capitulate to Gravity.

- Feuerball – 4 channel video sculpture
Immersive videos that examine that moment when play and terror intermingle.

- Dora, Spongebob, Spiderman (Digital Inkjet, 24″ x 18″)
- Variety (Digital Inkjet, 24″ x 18″)
- The Power of Youth (Digital Inkjet, 24″ x 18″)



Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved local fairs. There was one every year in Dearborn Heights, pretty close to my parents house—I remember it at only at night—harsh sodium lights casting black shadows, the rumble of car tires as the Gravitron took off, cotton candy wisps, too much perfume and sweat streaked backs. I loved the rides, they were an opportunity to exceed the limits of rationality, especially because getting on one always seemed to involve waiting in long lines watching the rusty parts shudder under the impact of the constant surges of momentum.

I created 3 separate video installations (Feuerball, Gravitron, Pharoah’s Fury), each focusing on the physical experience of a different ride. I worked with one of the largest Midway operators in the country (North American Midway Entertainment) and they were very supportive, even allowing me to attach my gear directly to the different machines.

Here’s an update of the shoot in Indiana –

Preparatory drawings:

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Aaron Henderson’s videos and installations examine the ways that humans move. Recent projects examine the personal, cultural and political ramifications of all action, from intimate gestures to displays of super-human acrobatics.

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