Kinesis

On rhetoric, motion, and technical projects

What on Earth! by Les Drew & by Kaj Pindal, National Film Board of Canada

What on Earth! was directed by Les Drew and Kaj Pindal for the National Film Board of Canada. Published in 1966.

This is the Rinspeed micromax, a short-distance city pod car of sorts designed for the Eurpean market (hypothetically). Rinspeed is known for their oddball designs, though what’s interesting about this one is that it mimics other small personal transportation vehicles (PTVs), most notably rain-based ones. This is technically a hybrid-form of vehicle - a hybrid between an autonomous podcar (like the VIPA) and a tall city car. So, that’s a first, I suppose.

This is the Rinspeed micromax, a short-distance city pod car of sorts designed for the Eurpean market (hypothetically). Rinspeed is known for their oddball designs, though what’s interesting about this one is that it mimics other small personal transportation vehicles (PTVs), most notably rain-based ones. This is technically a hybrid-form of vehicle - a hybrid between an autonomous podcar (like the VIPA) and a tall city car. So, that’s a first, I suppose.

Not new, but I’m getting ready to think about mobility studies again. Prepping for a project for the summer, perhaps.

Peugeot Ad referencing our supposedly innate desire to grasp.

French Traffic Jams

As it turns out, France has some of the worst traffic in the Western world, though only on major vacation days. The response is anger, but acceptance. This article from the LA Times is from a few years ago, though I’m just getting around to posting it now.

A great quote, though:

"As usual, the first weekend in August was the dark vortex of the summer stampede. On Saturday, French highways experienced a total of 434 miles of traffic jams. Government transport analysts designated the day with the worst level in the color-coded hierarchy of congestion: "Black Saturday." "That means the traffic jams start at 3 a.m. and keep going," Arnold said with a wry grin. "Black Saturday is black all day and all night.""

Carmageddon

It’s amazing how much we affect the planet and recognize only in brief glimpses. From a good article from earlier this summer:

"Nature doesn’t normally present the kind of opportunity that "Carmageddon" did in Los Angeles last year, an opportunity to catch a glimpse of atmosphere that’s typically saturated with pollutants on a suddenly pristine day. As you’ll recall, Los Angeles shut down a 10-mile stretch of one of its busiest highways, the 405, for a July weekend in 2011 (the city reprised the closure this past weekend to finish the project). Locals predicted apocalyptic gridlock. Instead, out of fear of just such a scene, drivers stayed home in dramatic numbers – from the 405, but also throughout the entire region.”

"Air quality near the normally busy highway improved by 83 percent that day last July, relative to comparable weekends. Elsewhere in West Los Angeles, the improvement was equally dramatic. Air quality improved by 75 percent on that side of the city and in Santa Monica, and by 25 percent throughout the entire region, as a measure of the drop in ultrafine particulate matter associated with tailpipe emissions."

Transit Culture

In reading this recent article on This Big City, it struck a chord with me about the major difference I see between cycling in Lafayette, Indiana and Corvallis, Oregon. In the article, Drew Reed explains that when he moved to Buenos Aires, he was “surprised by the universality of bus ridership. Ask anyone on the street which bus to take and chances are they will know. Even people who commute by car will have some familiarity with the bus system in their area. Absent are the perplexed looks when you tell a stranger you need to take a bus, and the occasional inquiry of, “You mean you don’t have a car?”

I get some of the same feeling in Corvallis in that almost everyone rides a bike to get somewhere. Not everyone bike commutes, though about 10% of the town does, and not everyone bikes throughout the year, though there’s a recognition that biking is a common way of getting around. Add to that the civic architecture of bike shelters, plentiful parking, and planning committees that ask “how can our urban and suburban environment support biking as well as automobiles” and you get a cultural shift in biking culture. Instead of biking being something done by “fitness nuts,” the economically underprivileged, or those with a DUI, it is both a part of “everyday” culture and can be said to be z strong culture of its own. The half-dozen bike shops in a town of less than 60,000 attest to that. 

I don’t use the word “culture” much in my work anymore, especially since I’m wait-deep in actor-network theory and object-oriented ontology, but there’s something indescribable about the emergence and stickyness of these human networks that the word “culture” describes well.

This is a video from Yuri Suzuki and the AIAIAI Sound Taxi project called Make the City Sound Better. They’ve equipped a “sound taxi” with microphones that record all of the street noise that goes on outside of a vehicle, record that sounds in multiple layers, and then syncopate them to a specific beat. All of this happens in real-time. “Passersby will hear the music via the 67 speakers built into the entire car body and the big, shiny Indian horns mounted on top of the taxi’s roof. Finally, the passengers of the sound taxi can tune-in to the converted sounds via headphones installed inside of the vehicle.”

The project reminds me of a great quotation from de Certeau about rail travel: “Only the partition makes noise. As it moves forward and creates two inverted silences, it taps out a rhythm, it whistles or moans.”

With all of the new designs for electric vehicles out there, some say “I’m an electric vehicle” more than things like the Aptera (though the production plans for that are supposedly over). This offering from Lit Motors, however, seems to scream “I’m different!” Seems like it makes sense for city dwellers who might not take as easily to a scooter or motorcycle because of balance and weather.
See more on the unveiling here.

With all of the new designs for electric vehicles out there, some say “I’m an electric vehicle” more than things like the Aptera (though the production plans for that are supposedly over). This offering from Lit Motors, however, seems to scream “I’m different!” Seems like it makes sense for city dwellers who might not take as easily to a scooter or motorcycle because of balance and weather.

See more on the unveiling here.

I love this 1992 video of the GM Ultralite concept car. Unfortunately, like so many GM concept car designs from the era, much of this tech was largely ignored in the coming SUV craze of the 90s. It’s perhaps easy to dismiss GM as ignoring these concepts for 20 years or so, as their bottom line rested upon large sport utilities, but it’s very likely that smaller aspects from this car made it into production (though in less dramatic ways).