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Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race
Race Report: 2021 Honey, I Shrunk the Kinetic Sculpture Race



Here's a Sculpture!

Saturday 1 May 2021

Back in 2021, some may remember a novel coronavirus pandemic wracked the world. Schools and playgrounds were closed while desperate people hoarded toilet paper and consumed horse dewormer. Large in-person gatherings were canceled or transformed around the planet, even in Baltimore.

The Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race was thusly transformed: instead of congregating to race large artful machines, forty teams of Kinetinauts sent small artful machines to Baltimore to race separate from human pilots and crew. From the opening ceremony to the awards, the miniature race captured much of the spirit of the full-size race. You can watch the whole event on video or see our report below.

Howley Davidson’s Dream

The coveted Art Award went to Howley Davidson’s Dream, with a black wolf in sheep’s clothing on a motorcycle pursuing four winged flying sheep, all on a white Formula One chassis. Howley was made by The Soda Quackers, incumbent winners of the 2019 Grand Mediocre Champion.

On this masterpiece of mechanized miniature mobile articulation, the wolf raised and lowered its head, and sheep wings all flapped as the sheep themselves bobbed up and down, to the tune Born To Be Wild.

Sheldon’s Big Adventure

Runaway winner of the 2021 Miniature People’s Choice Award, Sheldon the cat piloted a tricycle standing in a litter box—with genuine litter. Sheldon comprised actual cat hair from an actual cat.

While Worst Honorable Mention in the full-size race is given for half-baked engineering, the judges awarded it this year to Sheldon for persistent disruptions to the race itself: scattering cat litter in the water and (shown here) mowing down nearly the entire complement of spectators at the mud crossing.

Wrecking Bear

With enchanting music driven by an integrated loop of player piano paper, gears for tires, and a bear doing the splits while holding its own head aloft, Wrecking Bear from NOVA Labs Maker Space won the Engineering award.

For completely flipping over in the first-ever Kinetic waterfall, it was also nominated for Golden Flipper. Sculptures went under this waterfall, not over.

Buhbuh the Fish

Constructucted of recycled materials, Buhbuh won the Born To Be Wild Conservation award for celebrating the wildness of nature and thoughtful use of materials.

Traction in the sand was less critical in 2021 thanks to the tow lines.

APES Visionary Art Mayhem

The APES Visionary Art Mayhem sculpture featured simian protestors flanking a variety of miniature AVAM artworks including the mirrored cosmic eggs, a monkey dressed as Fifi, and a rotating Divine statue. Bubbles came out as it traversed the racecourse.

Its sturdy construction with outboard pontoons and all-terrain wheels led APES to an Engineering award nomination.

Little Wheels Keep on Turning

This rugged ferris wheel rotated throughout the race, and models a much bigger entry Team 1,800 Lbs hopes to bring to Baltimore’s next full-size race.

Successful float testing was evident. With foam pontoons on all sides, it was also nominated for an Engineering award.

The Rainbow Duck Loves You

Although the drive wheel was small and narrow, the sock monkey metaphorically pedaled the Rainbow Duck through the race.

Dolls & Bots Reclaim the Earth

A cassette tape player façade on roller skate wheels, with a conch shell anchor on a long vine, Dolls and Bots was constructed of vintage reclaimed materials.

Some disorder was experienced at the water crossing.

Mr. Boh’s Dune Buggy

The one-eyed National Bohemian mascot rode what looked like a broken tree trunk with reins for steering.

Gnarled tires and coiled spring shock absorbers worked well in the mud.

I’m a Hipboh, Hon Hipboh

Commemorating Mr. Boh in ungulate megafauna form, this curiously two-eyed entry had a golden moustache and wheels.

After doing very well in the water, Hipboh had some troubles crossing the sand.

Then on the mud, the hippo’s wheels came off: first at the rear.

Then spectacularly at the front.

Excelly the Crab

Excelly the red crab bore fur atop a Lego chassis and swimming pool lane flotation.

Excelly’s claws rotated as it followed the course. The judges nominated Excelly for the Art award.

Chessie

With four eyes and a white cowboy, Chessie rode well on land.

The central milk jug flotation and high center of gravity led to calamity on the water. While this got Chessie nominated for Golden Flipper, the cowboy lost a limb.

Gertrude the Flamingo

With pink tulle and studded tires, Gertrude the pink flamingo had style.

Her wheels left tracks in the sand. Gertrude is made from recycled items.

Royal CATamaran

Royal CATamaran sported a grand 3-D printed lion atop twin pontoons and large tires, earning an Engineering award nomination.

The cat’s crown rotated through the race.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

The first sculpture to feature sixteen consecutive vowels, Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa represents the boundless enthusiasm (and perhaps confusion) of the Brood X 19-year cicadas that emerged during the pandemic.

It seemed to get trapped under the waterfall, perhaps something of a Coandă effect.

A cicada wing came off in the mud.

S. S. Dummy Thiqq Monkey

The first of several entries from St. Paul’s School for Boys, S. S. Dummy Thiqq Monkey also featured legos.

This dramatic faceplant outclassed the competition to win Golden Flipper for “most interesting water entry”.

Swag Duck

The duck had a sponge and eggshell body, with a glittery chain and multicolor pipecleaner tail.

Swag Duck was nominated for the Art award.

Bluejay Bob

Bluejay Bob was also made of legos, with sections of pool noodles as flotation.

Bob flipped sideways in the mud.

The Ark

Also from St. Paul’s School for Boys, The Ark was extremely lightweight and floated well on its noodles.

Radiolarian Special

Radiolarian Special is an aerodynamic pontooned trike, the only kinetic sculpture entry commemorating predatory protozoa.

At the mud, Radiolarian crashed into the guardrails, but no spectators were harmed.

The Last Bee on Earth

A nominee for the Born to Be Wild Conservation Award, The Last Bee on Earth featured an artistic bee made of found materials and a rear paddlewheel.

The large wheels rolled easily through the mud.

Sunny Days Ahead

Commemorating a Baltimore neighborhood, Sunny Days Ahead had skateboard wheels and noodle flotation.

The city was on only one side.

Mr. Trash Wheel

Mr. Trash Wheel commemorates Baltimore’s debris-cleaning waterway machines and the Healthy Harbor Initiative.

Its wheels had trouble in the sand.

Not the Red Vehicle

With the classic Jemicy School distinctive center-hinge design, large outboard foam blocks provided considerable stability on the water.

Despite the color shift, this is the same vehicle as the shot above; the lighting was very different at the start and mud.

This is the first Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race since at least 2005 that did not see an ACE awarded to the Jemicy School—but this is also the first race in which no ACE awards were available, likely due to social distancing rules precluding ACE judges along the racecourse. It would have likely won an ACE had they been available.

Ship Happens

This sculpture considerably exceeded the maximum size when measured with a normal ruler, but they provided a special ruler under which they allegedly met the size requirements.

Ship Happens was nominated for the Art Award.

It’s dedicated to all the workers helping us through the pandemic. A tiny crocodile followed on a string.

Queen of Denile

Queen of Denile was so long it didn't fit on the screen. The long floating core rolled on the water and earned a Golden Flipper nomination.

Tall wagon wheels provided enough ground clearance in the mud.

Higgins the Horned Wigged Wheeled Earwig

Higgins was a cute foam earwig on wheels.

Gnarled tires did very well in the sand.

Don’t Be a Litterbug

A heart-clad northern hemisphere earth rode on a wheeled platform under an assortment of litter debris.

Its low ground clearance smoothed sand for subsequent sculptures.

Banana Boat Mama

With banana pontoons around a gingerbread man pan, Banana Boat Mama had a big smile.

Lightweight design kept her from sinking into the mud.

Geometera

Geometera had googly eyes attached to a series of foam balls arched between wheelsets.

It didn't sink at the water, but wasn’t particularly stable either.

Rover the Rover

Dedicated to the exploration of Mars, Rover was covered in duct tape.

Even the wheels were covered in tape.

Mr. Prickles

Mr. Prickles was an adorable bejeweled stegosaurus

Mr. Prickles’ challenges throughout the race, including looking like “an open-faced sandwich,” and resulted in a Golden Flipper nomination.

Honey I Strunk Fifi!

This miniature version of race mascot Fifi bore pearls and swimming pool floats.

Fifi floated quite well.

Fancy Feast

Fancy Feast was piloted by a white mouse atop flowers and sparkly balls.

It completely tipped over in the mud.

Larry!

From here to the end we have a special category of kinetic sculpture unique to the 2021 race: wheelless and tiny-wheeled sculptures. This is Larry.

Larry tipped over in the water.

Titali

The rules set a maximum size, but no minimum. Titali the tiny butterfly was nominated for the Born to Be Wild Conservation Award.

Titali flipped in both the sand and mud, while exhibiting elegant fluttering action.

Hot Lips Ladew

Hot Lips Ladew was a turtle with no wheels at all.

Dragged through the sand, it left a flat track.

New Ground

New Ground was an old cathode-ray television with a plug-in controller.

It had trouble staying upright in the obstacles.

Ssssssssnakey

Ssssssssnakey was nominated for the Born to Be Wild Conservation Award because it was made of driftwood and broken glass

It had no wheels to get stuck in the mud.

The Anemone Drifter

Anemone drifter was the only hairy sphere on an axle.

Its simple design produced an easy float.

The 2021 race included a miniature Rebecca Hoffberger welcoming spectators as the angel of Hobart Brown looked on.

A miniature Sister Euphonia O'Blivion Blessed de Feet of miniature racers.

And miniature judges presented all the awards listed above. We hope everyone enjoyed the distinctively small 2021 race, and eagerly anticipate a return of full-size Kinetic racing in 2022!

For an email reminder 1 month before the race on Saturday 7 May 2022, and when the 2022 Spectator’s Guide is available, join the Spectator Mailing List!

The Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race is sponsored and run by the American Visionary Art Museum. KineticBaltimore.com is the volunteer work of Tom Jones.
If you have suggestions about making this site better, or questions, e-mail Tom at tjones@spril.com.