The Busycle

Last year we linked to Moz, the creator of one less ute, a load bearing bicycle designed to carry up to 200kg. Given a recent random encounter with the man at a new years festival, it was hardly surprising that Moz should show up again, this time as part of the crew behind the construction of the Busycle.

Conceived of as a “public art project” by Heather Clark and Matthew Mazzotta, the Busycle is a “15 person 100% pedaled vehicle”. It adaptively reuses materials “ranging from office chairs to steel bed frames” in a creation where the emphasis is as much on the communal effort involved in building and powering it, as it is on the creation of an alternative mode of transport.

Over 50 people participated in the design and construction of this vehicle with an impressive diversity of backgrounds and expertise contributing to the project’s realization. A quick look at the bio’s section of the busycle website is enough to send Nicolas Bourriaud into a frenzy. His term “relational aesthetics” has vicariously attached itself to many modes of artist production as well as to notions of “newness” and “the avant garde” in contemporary art. In some ways projects like the Busycle are responsible for reclaiming and reinvigorating the territory which the term relational aesthetics sought to map out. The collaboration and engineering involved in creating the Busycle moves the relational beyond its formulaic application in the art gallery context, into territory where its identification as art becomes unimportant.

One thought on “The Busycle

  1. Ian Milliss

    That’s fantastic Ben. I also liked the Platypus pedal powered amphibious vehicle on their bio page.

    There’s more Bourriaud in the documents on my website at                                       http://www.ianmilliss.com/documents/BourriaudGlossary.htm and                          http://www.ianmilliss.com/documents/BourriaudInterview.htm

    I was fairly pleased by the advent of relational aesthetics in the late 90s, I thought here at last is some serious writing about the previously ignored work that had been going on since the mid 70s. While mainstream conceptualism simply sold out ASAP, throughout the world were artists who had extended the political logic of conceptual art into political and social activism (myself included). Little was written about it, mainly by Nina Felshin and Greg Sholette.

    I was soon disillusioned to discover that Bourriaud was talking about artists like Vanessa Beecroft, in other words the same old tedious irrelevant biennale art, just with a new intellectual gloss. Even the best of the artists he supports like Rirkrit Tiravanija still distort their activities into the art market gallery context. It seems that Bourriaud simply doesn’t understand the implications of what he has written, and still thinks there is this activity called art that can be made for art galleries, rather than art being an after the fact tag applied to activities that had cultural impact.

    I take a fairly hard line that the work has to be utilitarian in some real way, have a reason to exist outside of the art scene, before it can then, preferably much later, be considered in terms of its art/aesthetic value. The Busycle is a great positive illustration of that. (It’s not too hard to find negative examples, usually it’s a bunch of artists sitting around talking about their irrelevance and calling it relational aesthetics.)

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