What makes an art car "great" ?

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding the building and creation of mutant vehicles in Black Rock City
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Dork
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What makes an art car "great" ?

Post by Dork » Thu Sep 16, 2004 10:26 am

I've heard it several times since the event.. there weren't many "great" art cars this year. People weren't impressed with the quality of the cars out there.

I'm upgrading my car for next year and would like to get some opinions on what this means. What makes one car "OK" and another one "Great" in your opinon? Was the little single rider scorpion with the flame on the tail great or simply "OK" because it wasn't a party barge? How much is size a factor? Is fit and finish important or is it more about offering up an image that brings up memories or is simply silly?

Which cars do you rank as great and what would you like to see more of?

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Post by kikidelosfeliz » Thu Sep 16, 2004 11:06 am

Favorites included

the Mastodon - historical Lake Lahontan reference by day, blue-eyed beauty by night
the Scorpion - sheer gorgeousness factor, wish I'd seen it flame!
guy on bike with flaming companion - not really a "car" but made us all gasp, cool, shocking, horrific factors all at once. Especially creepy effect that rider was "pedalling."
the Lotus car - serenely glowing outside temple one night
the Jellyfish - spinning tank base was a nice effect
the spinning swing car - all aboard!
cognitive dissident

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Re: What makes an art car "great" ?

Post by robbidobbs » Thu Sep 16, 2004 11:12 am

Dork wrote:I've heard it several times since the event.. there weren't many "great" art cars this year. People weren't impressed with the quality of the cars out there.

I'm upgrading my car for next year and would like to get some opinions on what this means. What makes one car "OK" and another one "Great" in your opinon? Was the little single rider scorpion with the flame on the tail great or simply "OK" because it wasn't a party barge? How much is size a factor? Is fit and finish important or is it more about offering up an image that brings up memories or is simply silly?

Which cars do you rank as great and what would you like to see more of?
Having worked for DMV in 2000, and seen a lot of art cars since aquiring that perspective (looking for what constitutes "art" vs "modified" vs "personal conveiyance"), I can give this opinion:
1) the best ones have been neither pretentious, nor overly big. They were just clever -- like the flying saucer and the floating head.
2) the people involved got into the theme of the vehicle, this works best in ships of any kind and "animal control". The crews often are in costume, interact with participants in character, and generally look they're having a wonderful time running their trip on the City.
3) they are tasteful, rather than slapped together because someone learned how to weld.: The Cathedral is a perfect example of a gothic themed car, whereas I'm sure you can recall any number of cars that look like they're trying out for a role in Road Warrior.

My opinion...and it farts too.

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Post by sparkletarte » Thu Sep 16, 2004 11:19 am

I loooooved they flying saucer. I also really liked the quarter moon- it looked so lovely.

I loved the bouncy bouncy art boat because the people on it were so great and cuddly, it bounced, it had a dancing pole, black lights, a big lighted (what?) up curvy horn thing on the front, coolers under the seats and they gave me lots of rides. I have a crush on the bouncy bouncers. There. I said it.

I loved the playa cruiser because it looked so bizarre cruising around and, again, nice people on board.

I guess I have a thing for boats and, uh, anyone that gave me a ride. I know that's not very helpful for you.

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Post by dragonfly Jafe » Thu Sep 16, 2004 11:52 am

here is my score card;

1 point for NOT being based on a production vehicle
1 point for NOT being gasoline powered (includes no gasoline generators)
1 point for carrying more than the driver
1 point for being completely and whimsically colored (wow factor)
1 point for looking as cool during the day as it does at night
1 point for being original (1st of it's kind on the Playa)
1 point for having flame effects (just cause they are so cool on vehicles)
1 point for having something besides 4 wheels on the main vehicle
1 point for being in theme
1 point if I actually get to ride on it or talk to the creator

of course, my vehicle (which broke down in Nixon this year) only scores a "5" by this accounting....back to the drawing board for me!

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Post by Chai Guy » Thu Sep 16, 2004 12:09 pm

Since I've been such an outspoken opponent of art cars I thought I would offer what I do like about them.

1. Art cars that don't look like cars- I think if you can take one glance and tell the make/model then chances are it might not be that great (there are of course notable exceptions, the Drive In movie theater car comes instantly to mind).

2. Big or Small, it dosen't matter as long as it's done well. Two extreme examples would be "La Contessa" the huge pirate ship, and "Little boy" a replica of the famed atom bomb that was fashioned around a 50cc motor scooter. Both were perfectly crafted and executed and I can still picture them perfectly.

3. Themed Cars- You take one look at the Catbus and you get it, it's a bus that looks like a cat, La Contessa=Pirate Ship, and even some things that maybe defy description, like the Nebulus Entity (bone sculpture car) you can still look at and realize the idea that's holding it together. I much prefer that style to the one that says "Let's glue some fun fur and baby doll heads to this golf cart!"

4. Ideas out of Context- Like Capt. Goddamnit's Boat, sure it's a pretty ordinary boat I guess, but I still smile when I see it cruise by, because it's done so well, you really get the illusion that it's a boat passing you by. Another example would be Playa Air (the plane that was mounted on a scissor lift truck)

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Post by PurpleKoosh » Thu Sep 16, 2004 3:08 pm

My favorite mutant vehicle this year: Splat's Diner, hands down. When they came in to get registered, they were all in costume, handed out menus and hats, and just generally rocked the house.
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Post by robbidobbs » Thu Sep 16, 2004 6:43 pm

dragonfly Jafe wrote: 1 point for carrying more than the driver
1 point if I actually get to ride on it or talk to the creator
You just contradicted yourself.

SO which is it: decorated personal conveyance or a participation public transit vehicle???????????

I vote for public transit, cause I have to admit, I rely on the kindness of strange art cars to get me to and fro (and giving me a fun experience)

I rode on ONE (1) art car this year, and it was a "party" truck. I loved getting home by this bus.

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Post by PurpleKoosh » Thu Sep 16, 2004 7:26 pm

robbidobbs wrote:
dragonfly Jafe wrote: 1 point for carrying more than the driver
1 point if I actually get to ride on it or talk to the creator
You just contradicted yourself.
Not the way I'm reading it...Point 2 (actually getting to ride on it) is only possible if Point 1 (carrying more than the driver) is present.
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Post by robbidobbs » Fri Sep 17, 2004 3:58 am

rats
I misread #1.
(must have been the beer)

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Post by milenko » Fri Sep 17, 2004 8:57 am

It is only cool if it follows a very narrow SF art student version of cool. There is no room on the playa for deviation of the formula. Try to do something that is uniquely cool. You know, something like all those studded belts with chain wallets. Try to impress those guys.

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Post by LostMachine » Fri Sep 17, 2004 7:44 pm

I don’t care for the party barges unless they are done really well (draka). The weakest one I've seen was the framed up platform made to fit in the back of a Hertz rental pick up truck. They had plywood horses on the front of the truck with the “illusion” that they were pulling the platform. This would have been alright if the platform looked like a stage coach or some type of western wagon but it wasn’t. It was designed to fit as many drunken frat boys as it could complete with huge mirror ball. They didn’t even hide the Hertz sign on the door of the truck.

I think the best thing you can do is not start with a car.
If you start with a car it will be hard to make it look like something other than a car with “things” attached.


Start with a good idea then make it work.
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Post by dragonfly Jafe » Sat Sep 18, 2004 4:31 pm

robbidobbs wrote:SO which is it: decorated personal conveyance or a participation public transit vehicle???????????
Definately a participatory public interaction type space on wheels. This year our vehicle (Empyrean Saucer) was a "party barge", but (IMHO) a well decorated and executed one. We had room for 60 passengers and were dedicated to picking up the public (alien abductions). Our Crew had "uniforms" and names. We had the "wheel of fate" (wheel of fortune with tasks to complete for drinks or admission to upper deck), an interactive smoke ring generator on the front (3' dia rings with practice, but needs totally still conditions to work. Obviously this year was not the year for this. It was the purple face looking thing with rubber on the back at 5:00 and Espalande), control panels (that did nothing but had lots of levers and buttons that glowed when pushed and EL wire "screens" that lit up), a photo center with "blue screen" and props, lounge seating up top, a dual CD DJ machine plus groove box, a 2 bartender bar (with an ice cream maker!) with chairs and drink rails, a "no-gap" carpeted dance floor that was over 30 feet long, handicapable throughout the first floor, etc. Only problem was all the stuff ended up waying so much it broke my truck.

Simple is good. Less is more. Somebody remind of this next year! A warning to the newbies out there - Mutated Vehicles are an addiction.

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1st try

Post by Mister Jellyfish Mister » Sat Sep 18, 2004 7:39 pm

I was a virgin this year so lots of people told me they were impressed with what I built. I just knew I did not want to be an observer and this ended up my way of getting into the mix. Secretly, my favorite part was training and turning over the keys to the other "pilots" in my camp and watching the International Time Vault blink off into the night.

Lots of the framing was nuts and bolts on angle iron. I admire lots of the the real MV champions who weld with pinache and style. I'll stick to my soldering gun.

I think el wire is the pasta of the gods! When you realize what some have done with it to simulate animation, I can't wait to see the next level in 2005.

The coolest times I remember were when I drove past somebody who was applauding or obviously was hip to the time machine concept we were going for, then I'd reach behind myself and flip over the four foot hourglass with a big grin and never breaking eye contact. It was great to have that contact with people when we could both have an "ah ha" together and I felt like a glee beacon. I never got tired of people saying "what time is it?". That they wanted to do time play with us in any way was cool.
Art cred: Georgie Boy 2011: www.mutantvehicle.com/georgie_boy.htm ; Ein Hammer 2010; Fluffer 2009; Zsu Zsu 2008; U-Me 2007; Mantis 2006; MiniMan and Pikes Of Paranoia 2005; Time Machine Mutant Vehicle 2004. www.MutantVehicle.com

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Post by unjonharley » Sun Sep 19, 2004 9:09 pm

Fewer thrown togeather trash this has inspired me to cereate a moving art aka MV. I will take the point system designed by one of the posters here. I see t as a good place to start aaand idea. We all most understand that some of the art on the playa is by primative artist. Some may even seem to be made by childern. Never the less it is work done with good intent.
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Post by geekster » Sun Sep 19, 2004 9:39 pm

I had the opportunity to help prepare an art car (ok, so it was a party barge) this year and a few tips I have for people that want to make it a sustainable project:

You can come up with more cool ideas than you can actually implement well. Write down those cool ideas so you don't forget them for next year.

Make your art car and take it to the playa. If you get through all the DMV stuff, cool. Now, before you add anything else for next year, think of ways to make the stuff you already have easier to set up for next year. Maybe a particular type of fastener was a royal bitch or getting a particular kind of lighting out of stowage and on display turned out to be a headache.

Add only a couple of things a year and try to simplify what you already have. Try to reduce power consumption. Do those bulbs really NEED to be 100W or will a 75W provide the desired ambiance. We wasted a lot of time moving things around electrically because of tripping circuit breakers.

The main lesson learned was that in grabbing everyone's cool ideas, we ended up with something that was MUCH to elaborate to get set up in a reasonable amount of time.

Put your stuff into stowage/transport configuration just as if you are getting ready to head to the playa and then put the entire thing together as if you were arriving at BRC. If you can do this with enough time to spare to actually ACT on anything you learn from the process, it can make things a lot easier. Be mindful of how the stuff is packed. You want the stuff to unpack pretty much in the order that you are going to need it if possible. I know it sounds like common sense ... but people can get a case of "get-there-itus" and loose their minds a little when packing
up. Also, once you have everything set up ... turn on everything you are going to have turned on at the playa and let it run a couple of hours to see if the electrical system can handle it. Better to take care of electrical issues before you leave than on the playa.

Don't make the art car a pain in the ass or the source of camp drama. It should be a pleasure to get going. If it isn't, you don't need that art car.
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Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Sep 20, 2004 4:50 am

dragonfly Jafe wrote:here is my score card;

1 point for NOT being based on a production vehicle
1 point for NOT being gasoline powered (includes no gasoline generators)
1 point for carrying more than the driver
1 point for being completely and whimsically colored (wow factor)
1 point for looking as cool during the day as it does at night
1 point for being original (1st of it's kind on the Playa)
1 point for having flame effects (just cause they are so cool on vehicles)
1 point for having something besides 4 wheels on the main vehicle
1 point for being in theme
1 point if I actually get to ride on it or talk to the creator

of course, my vehicle (which broke down in Nixon this year) only scores a "5" by this accounting....back to the drawing board for me!
Well, the Playa Cruiser scores a 4 by your list...
+1, scratch-built, no car under it, +1, can carry many, +1, looks cool in daylight rather than relying on darkness to hide it's shoddy construction, and +1, you talked to the creator. The wheels aren't configured like a car's, but there are 4 of them.

I evaluated a bunch of really good Mutant Vehicles by your standard, all did poorly.

I think it's simpler: Extra points for fabricating something rather than starting with an existing vehicle of any kind, extra points if it looks as good in broad daylight yet has awesome nighttime lighting, and lots of extra points for just plain "Wow" factor... like porno, hard to define but you know it when you see it.

Being able to carry people is great, but has NOTHING to do with whether something is a great art car. An art car should be something that looks really cool moving around BRC, and makes you say "Wow, look at that, that's great, I'm glad I saw that". Some of the great ones mentioned earlier (the roving head and the flying saucer) don't carry people but they enhance the experience of everyone else that sees them in Black Rock City. THAT'S what a good art car does. And both score about a 2 on your list. Maybe 3 if they're electric powered.
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Post by dragonfly Jafe » Mon Sep 20, 2004 7:50 am

Captain Goddammit wrote:
dragonfly Jafe wrote:here is my score card;

1 point for NOT being based on a production vehicle
1 point for NOT being gasoline powered (includes no gasoline generators)
1 point for carrying more than the driver
1 point for being completely and whimsically colored (wow factor)
1 point for looking as cool during the day as it does at night
1 point for being original (1st of it's kind on the Playa)
1 point for having flame effects (just cause they are so cool on vehicles)
1 point for having something besides 4 wheels on the main vehicle
1 point for being in theme
1 point if I actually get to ride on it or talk to the creator

of course, my vehicle (which broke down in Nixon this year) only scores a "5" by this accounting....back to the drawing board for me!
Well, the Playa Cruiser scores a 4 by your list...
By my accounting, you get a 7 (missing only non-gasoline engine, flame effects, and having 4 wheels (although you definately should get an extra point for mixing different wheels front and back!) I agree in principle on your other points, but remember - this is MY scoring system. I prefer big vehicles that allow people to mix (but did enjoy the head and saucer as well, I just wouldn't want those types of vehicles to be the only type down there).

regards, Jafe

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muffins

Post by theCryptofishist » Mon Sep 20, 2004 12:15 pm

Image

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Re: muffins

Post by unjonharley » Mon Sep 20, 2004 12:28 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:[img]


Yes
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Post by dragonfly Jafe » Mon Sep 20, 2004 12:47 pm

Definately get extra points if the mutated vehicle is "cool" enough to be able to / want to drive it in a parade somewhere besides BRC! Those cupcakes rocked the Playa...

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Post by theCryptofishist » Mon Sep 20, 2004 1:14 pm

dragonfly Jafe wrote:Definately get extra points if the mutated vehicle is "cool" enough to be able to / want to drive it in a parade somewhere besides BRC!
I thought Berkeley *was* BRC.

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Post by Bob » Mon Sep 20, 2004 6:56 pm

What makes an art car "great"?
The UPRR?

Image

Great!
Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

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HELLBAR as ART CAR and rocking party barge!

Post by pstar » Fri Sep 24, 2004 2:13 pm

so LOST MACHINE didn't like our HELLBAR... drawn by the four horses of the apocaplypse... did you see us at night???

just goes to show ya... this was my third year and my first art project and my BEST BURN by far because we PARTICIPATED! WE WORKED OUR ASSES OFF - for four days our camp was a job site (sorry to the folks in the neighborhood who had to deal with our noise and trashed camp - but you know what, they all loved us and what we did and thanked us for our hard work at the end) - i designed the horses and learned how to use a jigsaw out there (in a dust storm no less) and was DAMN PROUD OF THEM!!!

we had SO MANY PEOPLE tell us that we were their FAVORITE art car out there, and more than a few that we were their favorite thing on the playa, period...

we had GREAT MUSIC (again, MANY people said we had the best music consistently out there) and were for the most part very well costumed ( i was the one sitting on top of our disco ball wearing a disco ball motorcycle helmet donated to the cause by our admiring neighbors- by the way LOST MACHINE, that disco ball's been out to the playa 6 times - no doubt more times than you - and is almost certainly the biggest disco ball out there, which no matter how you feel about disco balls you have to admit is a feat in itself...

we prided ourselves in always having some sort of libations to share and one morning served sunrise sausage and eggs to the masses...

everyday we changed or added something - flashing blinky's for the horses eyes the night of the burn, paper lanterns, hammocks and giant angel wings for the temple burn...

AND HELL YES WE WERE A PARTY BARGE _ AND WHAT OF IT??? as far as i know, burning man is about getting off in whatever way gets you there without hurting other people... and for me celebrating the celebration and sharing with as many people as i can it is the best way i know how - and there are lots of others like me - HALLELUJAH! but that's just for me - if you've found the way that works for you, right on and keep on burning!

oh yeah, and just in case anyone needs more, the night we registered with the dmv, we had several hotties come up and tell us they LOVED our rig, and if that wasn't enough, while sitting in the driver's seat waiting for our stickers, a woman came up to me, shook my hand and said "hi i'm gertie, the head of the DMV, and i just wanted to congratulate you on doing a fantastic job. nice work!"

she oughta know...

wish i had a photo to share but i can't figure out the thumbnail thing - if you're interested, i can email you a shot of our BEAUTIFUL HELLBAR

btw LOST MACHINE, i am a professional artist, and one who is perhaps overly concerned with aesthetics

oh yeah, didn't do a background check on my people so i can't say how many "frat boys" or girls for that matter were on board - sorry, i will do a better job of screening out the human undesirables next time - perhaps you' like burning man to do some racial profiling too? aren't goths pretty wealthy and white as a demographic - oops, just asking!!!

AND ANOTHER THING - an "art car" that's not a car... i think we are getting a little out of hand here... in the beginning it was a bunch of folks driving across the desert pouring gas on shit and shooting off shotguns... can we maintain a little bit of indiviual expression and CHAOS (yeah - just like life!!!) while attemping to encourage creativity and participation amongst newcomers who maybe haven't ever been creative of participated b4, and at the same time keep people safe???

enough with the coolness police... i just want to have a good time...

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Post by Dork » Fri Sep 24, 2004 2:25 pm

HELLBAR... drawn by the four horses of the apocaplypse... did you see us at night???
I did! I first saw it during the day and was like "That's cool. Must have been a lot of work" but at night it was amazing! Another cool one was the saw blade that cut its way through the playa as it moved. I don't even know what the car itself looked like, but that light was damn cool. I got a new appreciation for those who can design a lighting system that actually looks like something when all you can see is the lights.

I received a little bit of attitude (from one driver and the person who gave me the sticker) on my night trip to the DMV but I chalked it up to the fact that the line was HUGE that night. People were stressed. Next year I hope to make the hotties come running to check my car out instead of it being yet another one in the line.

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Post by meee_bot » Fri Sep 24, 2004 2:53 pm

My favorite is still this one:

http://images.burningman.com/index.cgi? ... y=art_cars

Designed by a lovely man called Byron who I met one day this year during a walkabout. It was the specific art car that last year made my eyes pop out of my skull and I thought I was going to cry, it was so beautiful. So nice to see it back again this year, and get to talk to the creator a little bit.

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Post by playasnake » Fri Sep 24, 2004 4:07 pm

e pluribus unimog

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Post by theCryptofishist » Fri Sep 24, 2004 4:13 pm

Definately worth the increase in ticket price to make sure that the LLC uses those to ship everything to the playa next year.

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Post by Captain Goddammit » Fri Sep 24, 2004 6:23 pm

dragonfly Jafe wrote:
Captain Goddammit wrote:
dragonfly Jafe wrote:here is my score card;

1 point for NOT being based on a production vehicle
1 point for NOT being gasoline powered (includes no gasoline generators)
1 point for carrying more than the driver
1 point for being completely and whimsically colored (wow factor)
1 point for looking as cool during the day as it does at night
1 point for being original (1st of it's kind on the Playa)
1 point for having flame effects (just cause they are so cool on vehicles)
1 point for having something besides 4 wheels on the main vehicle
1 point for being in theme
1 point if I actually get to ride on it or talk to the creator

of course, my vehicle (which broke down in Nixon this year) only scores a "5" by this accounting....back to the drawing board for me!
Well, the Playa Cruiser scores a 4 by your list...
By my accounting, you get a 7 (missing only non-gasoline engine, flame effects, and having 4 wheels (although you definately should get an extra point for mixing different wheels front and back!)
regards, Jafe
Mine isn't original, boats have been done, isn't whimsically colored, the front and rear wheels are the same (although I had steel ones in front and aluminum in rear because I didn't feel like swapping them for no other reason), and it isn't in theme (even "Floating World", that everyone gives me shit about being over, was sheer coincidence, I didn't then and never did give a shit about the theme), so it ain't a seven...
And by the way, what's the deal about gasoline engines? It isn't an ecology parade, it's a mutant vehicle/art car... although the 'Cruiser is electronically fuel-injected, has a catalytic converter (look under the "swim step!") and would still pass an emission test.

Everyone is gonna jump on you because your list makes EVERYONE'S vehicle score poorly... take cover! You asked for it...

My favorite are the lame fucks that yell "Boats were 2 years ago!" at me. I usually yell back "Your fucking bike was 100 years ago!" or just "Yeah... what did you build, it must be awesome..."
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Post by LostMachine » Fri Sep 24, 2004 9:30 pm

Pstar,

I’m glad you had a great burn, and I’m very happy that you participated. I feel the more work you put into before arriving the better time you have while you’re there. There is no doubt in my mind that you put in a lot more work than most people.

I only saw your art car during the day and to me it looked like a platform on the back of a hertz rent a truck. Something an experienced carpenter could throw together in a day. I wish I could have seen it at night perhaps it was much better.

Image

Unfortunately the hell, horsemen, apocalypse escaped me.


“AND ANOTHER THING - an "art car" that's not a car... i think we are getting a little out of hand here”
Don’t set limits for yourself; I’ve got friends working on walking “cars” made entirely from scratch. I know that this isn’t for everyone, but I do think everyone should set their goals higher each time.


In closing catch your breath it isn’t an art contest and I’m not your art critic. Different people have different taste.

Track me down next year and I’ll have a cold beer waiting for you, no hard feelings.

Sincerely,
LostMachine
www.LostMachine.com

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