Kinetic sculpture with 1,200 Matchbox-type cars

[Video Link] Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman (Catfish directors) made this terrific short documentary about Metropolis II, Chris Burden's incredible kinetic sculpture, a 20' x 30' model city with 1,200 Matchbox-type cars running at 200 scale mph. It took four years to make and will open at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art (LACMA) in Fall 2011. Below, a photo of co-director Ariel Schulman: Rel Burden


  1. Joost & Schulman? That doesn’t make any sense for them. After all, Metropolis II is both cool and not a hoax.

  2. I wonder is there is a lubricant applied to the axles? Will the Matchbox car wear out and need to be replaced? Did he consult with engineers at Mattel? Was this build on site over 4 years and if not what a nightmare of logistics of moving and reassembling this will be? Are the cars placed randomly or is there a cryptic message in their placement? Is the message in colors or the models? What does it mean?!

    *head explosion*

  3. The city of the future is supposed to feature _faster_ cars? Here I was thinking that what large cities really need is more intelligent planning i.e. better infrastructure for bikers and pedestrians, not a way to keep motorized vehicles on the roads. But then I haven’t invested four years of my life building a toy, so I guess I’m a bit biased.

    1. Which would also make it possible for you to visit The Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too.

  4. I love Chris Burden and I can’t wait to take my kid to see this.  And Tortoise and Mahogany were excellent choices for the soundtrack.

  5. I like Burden, but his 1999 piece “Airplane factory” promised a lot, a machine making and launching rubber-band powered planes into the Tate Britain gallery, and never worked. It also cost the Tate £500k ($814k). Disappointment isn’t the word for it.

  6. Hopefully, some visitor will slip a VW beetle with a dude nailed to it into the mix. 

  7. OK, not being a “hatah.”  I love the concept and I love what he’s created.  However:
    That music drove me crazy.
    The unending “artistic” super zoomed-in shots drove me crazy.  You have to wait till the very end
    to actually see _what_ it is.

    1. Those were the elements that kept me engaged throughout this little short. Are people so “speeded-up” and ADD these days that any semblance of patience is gone forever?

      Wow, and someone actually used a “tripod” (look it up) with a fluid head (look that up, too) instead of the crass shaky-cam-passing-itself-off-as-an “immediacy-intimate” tactic. Once one puts down the iText machine for 5 minutes and immerses oneself into the small reveals, graduating music, to the dramatic, final reveal of how vast this sculpture is, it’s quite satisfying. Kudos to all involved!

  8. I can’t wait to see this in the fall.  Amazing!  I loved the overhead shot.  Hopefully, they’ll have the video next to the exhibit, so you can get the first person view of the train (and yeah, it would be cool if they could get a first person view of a car).

    I loved Matchbox cars. They were better than Hot Wheels — my opinion.  They rolled better.  I recognized, in the close-ups, some of the ones I had when I was a kid. 

    I liked the music, but was waiting for them to play some Phillip Glass.

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