We are the Engines
We are the Engines shows and tells the story of the evolution of human-powered transportation, in particular the bicycle. Patent illustrations, vintage advertisements, and 3D models are brought to animated life, conveying not only the bicycle’s mechanical development but also its various impacts on society, from catalyzing the breakdown of the class system, to women’s emancipation, and the empowerment of the individual. Museum-goers of all ages explore this epic visual poem within an immersive animated sculpture: the Zoetrope Tunnel. The Zoetrope Tunnel is a 9-foot diameter by 20-foot long rotating cylinder. Sequential 3D prints and sculptural paper “frames” of printed, cut, and layered animation are tiled on a spiral path, covering the inner and outer tube. A footbridge spans the inside of the spinning tunnel. Visitors shine handheld strobe lights as they walk through and around the tunnel—wherever the lights are directed the content is revealed, in all of its dimensional, animated splendor.
We are the Engines is at once a history exhibit, a sustainability advocate, and a participatory artwork. Dozens of iterations of human-powered machines come to life on the tunnel walls while the aesthetic style of the scenes continuously shifts, reflecting the style of art and design of that particular era. The project raises appreciation for the bicycle as a viable means of everyday transportation and conveys its potential to solve modern problems of air pollution, urban overcrowding, and sustainability of resources. As an artwork, it is a new storytelling form that puts the means of exploration and discovery in the hands of the viewer and surrounds them in sculpture come-to-life.
Eric Dyer is an artist, filmmaker, experimental animator and educator. His award-winning films have screened internationally at numerous festivals, including the Chicago International Film Festival, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, South by Southwest and the Ottawa, Annecy, Melbourne and London International Animation Festivals. His work has also been exhibited at the Exploratorium, the Hirshhorn, the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art, Ars Electronica, and the Cairo and Venice Biennales. He received his MFA in 2004 from the Mount Royal School of Art at MICA, was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in filmmaking for travel to Denmark in 2005, was a New Frontier Artist at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, and in 2012 became a Creative Capital Grantee and Guggenheim Fellow. He creates films, installations and performances from spinning zoetrope-like sculptures.