Trick out my trike

Source:Global Times Published: 2011-4-25 9:32:00

Federico Moro (right) juggles on his modded three-wheeler. Photo: Wang Zi/GT

By Hao Ying

Jiang Wen, in his role as an ex-con trying to make good as a clothing merchant in the film Black Snow, was probably the first person to ride a tricycle cart with a gangster lean. But you don't need to be a gangster to pimp your sanlunche. Here's how these four foreigners tricked out their rides.

Universal appeal

A colorful sculpture of spheres, pyramids and cubes rotates like subatomic particles interacting with each other when Niko de La Faye's three-wheeled cart moves.

The French visual artist explains that the giant artwork fused on the back of his cart is a poetic representation of physicist Antony Garrett Lisi's Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything - a set of mathematical equations that supposedly describe how the universe works. Also, each of the eight spheres that dot the corners of the sculpture's giant cubic frame represents a different trigram from the Taoist Book of Changes.

"Taoists believe that the eight trigrams compose the universe," he explained.

The mechanism on the back is activated by a system of belts linked to the rear axle. When the bike moves, the red, yellow and blue shapes start to swirl at different speeds.  The Mobile Urban Kinetic Structure (MUS takes a lot of effort to drive, and even more to stop.

De La Faye has hired Beijingers to drive the MUSaround, hoping it will create some kind of break in people's "urban reality" - as he puts it, "bringing their mind away for a few seconds."

MUSwill be on display until Wednesday in front of Sanlitun SOHO, and at Art Beijing from April 29 to May 2, before returning to the streets.


Cupcake Economy

Crystal Ruth Bell has outfitted her sanlunche with a glass display case and paint job to create a mobile cupcake stand.

The American invites people on the street to try a home-baked cupcake in exchange for anything they would like to contribute. She's received songs, poems, jewelry, dances, dates, lessons - and even a kiss.

Bell says her cupcake project is intended to be "a sort of positive cultural exchange - cupcake diplomacy.

When she first started planning for this project, cupcakes were a rare find in Beijing

Since her project launched, three businesses devoted entirely to cupcakes opened.

"Trends from the West are highly influential on rapidly evolving Chinese culture, and just as we now question the affects of colonization, I think it's imperative we also question the effects of cultural imperialism," she explains.

The project is also part personal rebellion - Bell's family is religious, and has pressured her to do missionary work in China. "The act of 'spreading the good news' of cupcakes stems from my ongoing, albeit cheeky, consideration of what is worth spreading."


Nicholas Hanna's water calligraphy dot matrix printer and Niko de La Faye's MUS

Photos: Courtesy of the artists

Science meets calligraphy

Nicholas Hanna's sanlunche leaves a trail of Chinese calligraphy behind it, written in water on the road.

"The idea to build this machine came from watching people write with water brushes [on the ground] in the park. I felt compelled to do it, to see if I could make it work."

Hanna, a Canadian who graduated from Yale with a master's degree in architecture, explains the operating principal behind the device is the same as a dot-matrix printer. Each character is broken down into dots, which are sprayed line by line by an array of electromagnetic valves.

"The whole thing is controlled by software I wrote to convert Chinese characters into a sequence of commands for the water valves."

He says building the machine has led him to some interesting places, from electrical component markets to a sanlunche factory.

He still needs to iron out the bugs. Over the summer he plans to hold some events where people can come try out the machine.

Boom box

Juggler Federico Moro works at a bicycle shop, so it comes as no surprise that he's modified his sanlunche with fixed gear boutique parts. But the biggest mod is its sound system, complete with subwoofer bolted above the chassis.

The Italian director of the Natooke fixed bicycle and juggling gear shop uses the stereo during his juggling gigs. He also uses it to haul his kit, including two unicycles.

A basic three-wheeler costs around 2,300 yuan ($353), and Moro has spent another couple thousand on the mods.

Posted in: Metro Beijing

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