The "Totemobile" Citroen DS
As restorers of classic cars often referred to as works of art, we never quite know what our next project will be nor where it will come from. Hammering out body skins for low production cars that fall outside the focus of makers of reproduction parts is common place in our Covington Ohio shop. And hammering out skins is exactly what sculptor Chico MacMurtrie wanted us to do. Yet his goal, while involving an automotive theme, was a bit different. MacMurtrie told us he was building a kinetic sculpture which he described as evolving from nature, running its course through main stream society then returning to nature i.e. organic existentialism -- a force that towers over every element of life.
The sculpture as seen in the accompanying photos is a kinetic piece that on first impression appears to be simply an idle Citroen DS19 - yet under its aluminum skin exists myriad elaborate hydraulic-powered beams, gears, and electronics that literally separates the outer skin and transforms it into a convoluting form. When fully flowered it reaches some fifty plus feet into the air and looses much of its automotive appearance earning its title of Totemobile. MacMurtrie's website has more information on the Totemobile and other projects at http://amorphicrobotworks.org/works/ttm/index.htm
Commissioned by Citroen automotive of Paris France MacMurtries sculpture resembles a sleeping animal. With the flip of a switch, the form appears to start breathing and awakening from a deep sleep. "Organic" is how MacMurtrie describes the process.
D&D's metal shapers under the tutelage of Mark Kennison began hammering out the skins in the early spring of 2006. Simultaneously a team of engineers, CAD designers, welders, and robotic technicians was building the inner workings in MacMurtrie's Brooklyn NY art studio. By mid-summer as the project neared maturity, D&D metal shapers Shawn Lavene and Steve James loaded up the skins they had fashioned and motored to NY to attach them. Later D&D's Brad Helman and Ken New followed to assist in the final detailing of the 10,000 lb. beast. Working long hours seven days a week for nearly two months the D&D team affixed the panels to the Totemobile in a manner that matched the sculptor's vision. Later D&D team member Lavene joined MacMurtrie's team and flew to France where the 2006 Paris Motor Show was being staged. There he performed final tweaks and massages to the work of art. Once the show opened it was common each hour to see a crowd numbering 300 - 500 around the Citroen 'tellies' to witness its transformation. It was such a standout the President of Citroen chose it as a backdrop for his show opening press conference.
While modern day crossover hybrid vehicles was the theme of some 50 automakers participating in the show, our Citroen 'tellie' attracted considerable attention. After the two week show closing figures indicate 1,400,000 visitors, some 500 vehicles and 1,100 journalists from 100 plus countries had participated in the show. It's likely most visitors will remember the Totemobile for quite some time as it's unusual to see a moving exhibit in an often static environment. After the show sometime in mid-winter Citroen plans to truck the sculpture to its headquarters near the famed Arc de Triomphe and put it on permanent display.
In summary, we are pleased to have been chosen by MacMurtrie and we are left wondering what challenge our next customer will bring us.