Currently housed in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Chris Burden spent four years making “Metropolis II” – a 10 feet tall sculpture of a city with 1,200 toy cars whirring around tracks at high speeds.
According to a recent NPR article, Burden, who originally made his name as a performance artist, said that it goes back to “making an object, but an object that is performative.” He also says that Metropolis II fits more into the mainstream than some of his other work, stating “I don’t think you need to have an art history background to understand this sculpture.”
The cars of Metropolis II, which move as fast as 230 miles per hour, occasionally find themselves in traffic jams (just like in real life) and an operator is ever present to switch off the machine and get things back in order. After the cacophony of white noise created by all the motion, the silence left by turning it all off is, in contrast, horrific – the emptiness left by an absence of life. In the short documentary below from Supermarche, Burden says “it wasn’t about trying to make this scale model of something. It was more to evoke the energy of a city.”