First of all, remember kids: don’t run with scissors, don’t eat yellow snow and, most importantly of all, don’t forget that ‘Stuck With Hackett’ is on Science Channel at 10.30EST on August 18th. Click here to sign up for a reminder.
So the TV people think that the audience needs to get to know me a little better. You could all come round for dinner, but I am a lousy cook. I guess I’m ‘that guy who builds stuff out of trash’, which is true, obviously, but not the whole story.
I have been trying, for much of my time on this earth, to turn trash into art, to transmute base metal into gold. Sounds more pretentious than it is – necessity has had a lot to do with it: I’m not sitting on piles of money. The main tool in my artistic toolbox has been the Madagascar Institute. It’s a loose combine (don’t call it a collective, we’re not hippies!) of artists, makers and engineers. Our aim has always been to create installations that scare you witless and, hopefully, make you think a little.
The Jet Ponies are one of my favorite examples. Before I tell you about them, take a look:
What you’re watching is two propane-powered, valveless pulse-jets with seats, joined to a central, rotating, spindle. You quite simply saddle up, fire up the jets and ride in a fiery circle. As the jets reach full power, the ‘ponies’ swing out so you’re riding almost perpendicular to the ground.
Oh, did I mention that it’s deafeningly loud? And really hot? The ride of your life (maybe literally)? I like to think it makes people confront their own mortality, no that’s not quite right, it’s more like riding your own mortality and hoping you don’t fall off.
And to me, that is a beautiful thing.