Made On Earth
Reports from the world of backyard technology
Ultimate Hot Wheels Track
Whether you love or hate him, California artist
Chris Burden is a genius — he makes a living
playing with toys, on an epic scale.
Burden’s kinetic sculpture Metropolis II is a
mesmerizing cityscape where 1, 100 toy cars
blaze down 18 lanes of freeways in endless
loops. The work took Burden, his chief engineer Zak Cook, and ten assistants four years
to build in his Topanga Canyon studio.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art director
Michael Govan promptly dubbed it “a portrait
of L.A.” and secured it for display this fall.
A forerunner sculpture used Hot Wheels
cars and tracks, but these proved unreliable
at high speeds, so Burden switched to custom cars and plexiglass roadways. Industrial
conveyor belts grab the cars magnetically,
hoist them high, then release them to careen
through an architecture of Unistrut framing,
Lego, Haba Blocks, and Lincoln Logs.
Burden, 65, made his name in the 1970s
with risky performance art (he had himself
shot with a rifle and crucified on a Volkswagen,
among other stunts) before turning to installations and sculptures exploring science,
technology, and politics.
18 Make: makezine.com/26