The MonkeyLectric LED light system, invented by Instructables.com co-founder Dan Goldwater, turns spinning bike wheels into a psychedelic experience. Over at Boing Boing Gadgets, Brownlee has written a magnificent essay on the inherent weirdness of bicycles and the magic of MonkeyLectric lights. From BB Gadgets:
I've always wanted a bike like that. Perhaps not one that turns onlookers minds into a gelatin-like slurry, but a surrealist bicycle. Because, if you think about it, there is something inherently weird about the bicycle. With its chittering gears, bristling spokes and spinning chains, there is something insect-like about its workings… a mental connection evoked by its best synonym, velocipede… a synonym which seems to share both etymologic and entomologic phylum with the centipede.
I'm not the only one to be fascinated by the bike's innate oddity. Bicycles are often used in art as symbols of the inherently absurd: children's books are filled with magic or living bikes, and the penny-farthing is such a marvelously implausible method of transportation that it is constantly used as the butt of jokes in television shows. The penny-farthing was also the logo of Patrick McGoohan's hallucinatory sci-fi spy series, The Prisoner: the bike, by itself, was a symbol of the surrealness to come.
There are few pleasures in life purer than bicycling around on a bright, brisk day. This is because bikes are already just wonderfully odd inventions… making a bike even stranger is less an act of mechanical eccentricity than an attempt to pass the pleasure of riding one to the people you cycle past, emphasizing to them what they forgot: the bicycle's marvelous strangeness.