the busiest spots at the New York Auto Show is a small stand jammed up against
the rear wall.It is the display of robots
and cars from Transformers, the film
based on the classic toy.
of people around the world who never heard of the old Camaro have encountered
the new Camaro through the film. It appears as the character Bumblebee,
morphing into a giant robot.
stand, the huge robot looms behind a version of the yellow car.
hard to resist studying the parts of the robot, wearingthe broken yellow bits of car body like armor, and to mentally
reassemble them, making visual sense of the chaos—there’s a tail light, here’s
a bit of grille.That puzzle like
quality is probably the fundamental appeal of the Transformer toys.
The sequel Transformers film will
include other GM models including the Volt electric
Transformation is the message
General Motors is getting from President Obama and others in
.As the company tries to figure which pieces to drop and which to keep
and how to bend its organization and finances to survive, it is also hard to
resist seeing its task reflected in the shift of car to creature.In fact, it is hard not to look at
the looming Bumblebee Transformer robot as a metaphor for General Motors:
bumbling, creaky, imperfectly articulated but still large and powerful and
last night at Grand Central Terminal marked the opening of a display of BMW art
cars and “Expression of Joy,” artist Robin Rohde's painting executed with a BMW
Z4.The exhibition runs through April 6
and a crowd including Frank Stella, the artist behind one of the art cars, showed up.
Thetire prints in “Joy” reminded me of an
earlier landmark art work. The streaks
and drips of paint on the floor recall Jackson Pollock, of course, but also
Robert Rauschenberg, who painted one of BMW's art cars.In 1953, Rauschenberg collaborated with his
friend, the composer John Cage,on
another painting done with car and tire.Cage drove his Model A Ford,whose tires were covered with ink, along a 22 foot long strip of
paper.The result was given the title
‘Automobile Tire Print” and rolled up like an ancient scroll.
the sculptor H.C. Westerman used tire tracks as well. He carved a ship model of wood and drove over it with
the inked tires of his father in law's Lincoln Continental. He displayed the
model as "Death Ship Run Over by a '66 Lincoln Continental" and
afterwards made a series of drawings of the "death ship" models.
The novelist J.G. Ballard, who died on April 19 at age 78, was probably best known for Empire of the Sun, an account of his childhood years in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, filmed by Stephen Spielberg.But he was also an analyst of the impact of the automobile.
In 1973 he published the infamous novel Crash, a psycho sexual exploration of automobile accidents, filmed by David Cronenberg in 1996.“Do we see, in the car-crash, the portents of a nightmare marriage between technology, and our own sexuality?” Ballard asked in the book.
This was not the only automotive-themed Ballard work. In Concrete Island, a man who crashes his Jaguar becomes marooned amid freeway ramps like Robinson Crusoe marooned in the ocean. He lies caught up in his own thoughts, ignored by thousands of passing motorists.