We are the Engines

Eric Dyer is internationally recognized as a leading practitioner in the avant-garde of animation art.

Artist Bio

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.

Award Year

In Progress

Eric Dyer

Eric Dyer

Baltimore, MD

Eric Dyer is internationally recognized as a leading practitioner in the avant-garde of animation art. He has been a visiting artist at world-class institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, USA), East China Normal University (Shanghai, China), and California Institute of the Arts (Los Angeles, USA). He has been honored as a Fulbright Fellow, Sundance New Frontier Artist, Creative Capital Artist, and Guggenheim Fellow. His interactive animated sculptures and award-winning films have been widely exhibited at prestigious international events and venues such as the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art, Ars Electronica, international animation festivals in numerous countries, the screens of Times Square in New York City, and at the Cairo and Venice Biennales. The importance of Dyer’s work has also been recognized in leading academic books in the discipline of Animation Studies, including: Re- imagining Animation: the Changing Face of the Moving Image (Bloomsbury); Pervasive Animation (Routledge); Animation: A World History (Routledge); The Crafty Animator: Handmade, Craft-based Animation and Cultural Value (Palgrave); and A New History of Animation (Thames and Hudson). Dyer’s TED Talk, The Forgotten Art of the Zoetrope communicated his art practice to the general public and has been viewed over 1.1 million times. He is represented by the Ronald Feldman Gallery in New York City.