For us, one of the few nice parts about commercial flight is being able to look out of the window shortly after takeoff and see just how small and genuinely insignificant we all appear from just a few thousand feet in the air.

One glance can swallow the whole of a thousand families and all of their innumerable multitudes of problems. It's the difference between trying to make sense of a photograph by the pixel and stepping back to appreciate the whole. That and the fact that all of the cars and trucks look like Matchbox toys.

You may recall the kinetic sculpture Metropolis II by Chris Burden. The work, which took four years to complete, features 1,500 Hot Wheels diecast cars and a host of electric trains all bustling around a matrix of steel and plastic. If that sounds like a snapshot of your morning commute, you're not alone.

Burden recently sat down with directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman for a quick chat on what's behind Metropolis II and what it means to the artist. Those of you in Southern California may be able to see the exhibit in person at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the fall of 2011. For the rest of us, the mini documentary is well worth checking out and can be seen after the jump.



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  • 19 Comments
      JimmySawFinger
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow, wish i was in LA to see this in person, looks epic.
      Atomohawk
      • 3 Years Ago
      would be great to see the hotwheels video car run through the tracks on this beautiful piece of art. i could only imagine the wild ride that could be seen from that.
      Shiftright
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wonder why he painted the windows silver on the cars?....Also, dunno about you all, but 230 mph is about my average commute speed in my Zucchini GT
      jonnybimmer
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is just too cool! I feel like when I was a kid looking at huge model train layouts.
      Car Blog
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is so cool! I would love to actually see it in person! When everything goes quiet its such a weird feeling?
        Agilis
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Car Blog
        That's the point he was trying to make that the emotional stress that the presence of a city can put upon people. The noise this 'model' induces has the same effect as the noise present in a large city. When everything just stops, it's supposed to be welcoming but a weary feeling because these days we are not used to silence.
      StreetsideStig
      • 3 Years Ago
      That's incredible.
      Critter
      • 3 Years Ago
      Only in L.A. would this be considered as a cultural statement and therefore art. Not knocking it, and I live in and love L.A. but this to me is more akin to a boyish hobby taken to extremes. I happen to love me some installation art but, nah, this aint it. This is extremely cool, but not artfully or meaningfully executed, and far from personal in nature. I assume this is a grab to lower the mean demo for a period of time.
        Thunderbuck
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Critter
        Nope, I can't agree. This isn't quite the same as, say, the model train layout your nutty uncle laid out all over his house. There's a wonderful, stylized quality that brings to mind some of the thirties, techno-romantic notions of streamlining. It reminds me of some of the historical footage I've seen of the 1930's New York World's Fair and the old GM Futurama exhibits, but informed by newer sensibilities. This is cool enough that I'd actually consider traveling to LA to see it.
      NightFlight
      • 3 Years Ago
      He needs about 3 more people to help him build out the actual city instead of carboard "buildings" with mirrors on it. THEN this thing would be a true work of art.
        Halldór Björn Halldó
        @NightFlight
        I think the whole idea was not to portray the visual impression of a city but rather create the emotional experience of it. Personally I feel he's done that quite nicely.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      sandplusl
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wonder what it would be like if this really was the future of LA commute.
      The Calligrapher
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'd stay that the feel and the atmosphere would improve greatly if he could reduce the whirl produced by the electric motors. This would be difficult to do for the train models, which are self-propelled, but for the motors that move those transporter belts lifting the cars uphill it should be doable. The latter can be relocated and sound-insulated (maybe even relocated to another room or under the floor).
      Dark Gnat
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think one of his points is that all of the work that goes into creating this seems a little silly, but it took a lot of work to build real cities, freeways and traffic jams. To an alien visiting Earth and observing a real city, it might seem just as childish. This is what art does. It makes us look at our daily lives in a new way. Incredible job!
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