Metropolis II, a kinetic sculpture created by Chris Burden, is currently showing at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). 

Steel beams form an eclectic grid interwoven with an elaborate system of 18 roadways, including one 6 lane freeway, and HO scale train tracks… According to Burden, “The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars, produces in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st Century city.”

LACMA’s blog gives some detail:

  • The cars are attached by a small magnet to the conveyor belt that brings them to the crest.
  • The only motorization of the cars is the conveyor belt to the top.
  • Once the cars cross over the crest and head downward, their entire movement is by gravity.
  • They travel at a scale speed of 240 mph, plus or minus.
  • The tracks they take are Teflon coated to reduce friction.
  • The tracks are beveled at 7 degrees to give added torque for speed when
    they come through corners and curves.
  • The trains are out of the box electric train sets that run on electricity.

Taken at Burden’s studio, this video is a bit shorter and perhaps provides a better understanding of the scale and constant sound that’s produced by the equivalent of 100,000 toy cars per hour circulating through roadways. Metropolis II is currently an ongoing installation at LACMA with showtimes on Fridays and weekends.