Kinetic sculpture takes a page from modern life

The blurry image above is a snap of toy cars as they zoom around a multi-lane, multi-level, maniacal-maze called Metropolis II. We originally took a look at the video after the break (do it now!) but found more information on [Chris Burden’s] kenetic sculpture in this NYT article. He and eight studio artists began work on the project back in 2006. They built 1200 custom designed cars and gave them a huge city to traverse, with up to 18 lanes at times. The work is not yet done, and the video below is dated (having been filmed in 2009), but project is slated to conclude in about two months and the installation has already been snapped up by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

And here we thought this was the product of an out-of-work packaging system design engineer. Nope, it’s art, and it certainly eclipses other kinetic sculptures we’ve seen.

[via Tinkernology]

24 thoughts on “Kinetic sculpture takes a page from modern life

  1. Pretty sweet – takes hot-wheels to a whole-nother level.

    Though I’m a bit confused about how it could take 9 people over 5 years to make – other than the custom track its simple bolt together steel. I’d love to know how much the museum bought it for.

  2. @donov4n
    If you don’t think that this justifies it’s own existence (“art” or call it whatever you like,) you sir, have a cold shriveled up shell of a soul.

  3. @tordre

    Okay that makes a lot more sense. Sort of.

    Now I have to ask what value the custom designed cars add to the piece – I personally find them indistinguishable from run of the mill hot-wheels cars. Why not buy 1200 cars for $1200 rather than the ~$500k to pay the artists to custom design them (a conservative estimate – 9 people $10/hr 40 hours/wk for three years = $500k (say the other 2 years was design and fab of the road)).

    Perhaps the value the custom cars added was for the designers rather than the piece – you know, pad out the project for 5 years and get paid for it the name of art…

  4. @swighton

    Well, they look indistinguishable in this video. As many things I’ve seen in YouTube that have great detail in real-life. I’m not an “art” person, but when an artist wants to build something, the piece has something meaningful to show. I don’t think they want the meaningful part to be “these cheap guys bought a bunch of cars and put them a race track – Big deal-“.

    I’d believe that as artists, they would want to make something different from what other people could easily achieve.

  5. What modernistic drivel. Overpriced, loud, movement for movements sake, crapola.

    Putting the tag “art” on any old piece of crap is a scam that has outlived it’s usefulness.

    Next time, buy a box of popsicles, a few sets of hotwheels, and invite a 1/2 dozen 6 year olds over. Waaaaaay cheaper and you’ll get better results in just an afternoon.

  6. I have been to modern art auctions. The price is higher than I can afford but when you see something that just looks like turds on a canvas closing for >$70K or swatches neatly painted on a couple canvases >$60K this is a steal.

  7. The Ramps or “escalators” that take the cars to the top need to be tweaked a little faster. It seems to be the major bottle neck in the system. It would make things more linear and fluid.
    Even a futuristic “Metropolis II” has congestion/rush hour/traffic delays it seems.

    They look like regular 1:64 scale hotwheels to me__

  8. That. Is. So. Unbelievably. COOL!!!

    Also I agree with Wiljan. A camera on 1 or more of the cars would make it even cooler. What I’m really curious about is what the distance of the track is, and how long each of the cars take to travel it.

  9. I’m guessing that part of the reason for the custom cars is going to be the wheels. I’ve seen a normal hot wheel under continuous motion the wheels have a tendency to break in less than a half hour because there is nothing built in for them to reduce friction on either the rod connecting the tires or the friction of the tires on the inside wall.

  10. This is really cool watching it in motion. I can definitely understand the whole “art in motion” concept to this. This takes “hot wheels” to a whole new level.

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