Tarim Machine

Location: Gemini Building, on the air bridge

Gerrit van Bakel

""I did not hide anything, I show everything quite openly. But you (to physicist Hans Beltman) have been hiding technology for years already. The great human adventure is tucked away in erotic cliche symbols. Never did I see a radio that looks like a radio. That annoys me." (1980)

Van Bakel designs the 'Tarim Machine', purchased by TU/e in 1989, for the Documenta at Kassel. It is a response to developments in Brabant and to the Blue Flame. This tricycle rocket sets a world speed record of 1060 km/h on the salt flats of Utah. In Brabant mechanization takes hold of agriculture, increasing production and making everything seemingly having to go quicker. It makes Van Bakel form his theory on harmony: "Technology evolves so quickly that adaptation to new facts can no longer take place" he says in 1980. He builds the Tarim Machine in reply: the slowest vehicle in the world.

The Tarim Machine is designed to traverse the Tarim Basin and the construction may take thirty million years to move across this area north of Tibet which is almost as large as Europe. For comparison: that would take the Blue Flame no more than an hour, the 'Tarim Machine' covers 18 millimeters a day.

Differences in temperature make the oil in the ducts expand and press on a membrane. Via a rod that transfers the movement to a hook, which hooks into each following cog on a sprocket wheel. That's how the machine moves forward. Whether over sand, salt or rock, or if the construction climbs mountains or 'walks' or even if it tips upside down, the Tarim Machine will always continue on its way, as it has no specific up or down side.

Van Bakel could already envisage the following scene: "A grandfather says to his grandson: Do you see that machine? It is approaching. You must tell your grandson to build his hut a little to the left, otherwise the machine will ride across it."

See also: Provisional Rainbow Machine