Railway vibrations – part 2 ‘Jiggling’

We’ve previously looked at the role of the rail track and wheels in inducing vibrations in trains –  (see: Railway vibrations – part 1Graunching ) now it’s time to turn to the effect of vibrations on the rail passengers themselves. Dr. David Bissell – a lecturer at the Australian National University’s College of Arts and Social Sciences, is researching public transport, stillness, and the lack of it.
An example publication is : Vibrating materialities: mobility–body–technology relations (Area, Volume 42, Issue 4, pages 479–486, December 2010) in which the author documents the effects of vibration – and in particular ‘jiggling’ during rail journeys. As a result of his 1,500 hours of train journeys over a period of four years or so, he has built up a complex picture of ‘jiggling’ :

“… it is the memory of jiggling about that is perhaps most inescapable: the small, not exactly traumatic but certainly unrelenting shakes, quivers and vibrations that the body in transit has to endure in order to move.”

And, more generally, for rail travellers –

“Vibrations […] are an ever-present admonition that one’s body is being thrust though a landscape”.

In summary, how does this paper contribute to debates that consider the corporeal experience of mobilities?

“Drawing on some experiences of railway travel in Britain, it explores the experience of movement through the event of vibration. Vibration opens up ways of thinking about the uncertain and provisional connections between bodies, their travelling environments and the experience of movement that do not rely on dualistic or causal renderings of materiality. As such, this paper explores the generative possibilities that vibration opens up by considering how vibration [sic] change the shape of body–technology assemblages; challenge us to think about different assemblages in terms of their capacity for absorption, diffusion and transmission; and generate particular collectives. The paper concludes by considering how these vibrations sit within contemporary sensory economies of smoothness and turbulence.”

The paper can be read in full here.