This is one piece of what the artist called a “self-constructing and self-destroying work of art,” composed of bicycle wheels, motors, a piano, an addressograph, a go-cart, a bathtub, and other cast-off objects. Twenty-three feet long, twenty-seven feet high, and painted white, the machine was set in motion on March 18, 1960, before an audience in the Museum’s sculpture garden.
During its brief operation, a meteorological trial balloon inflated and burst, colored smoke was discharged, paintings were made and destroyed, and bottles crashed to the ground. A player piano, metal drums, a radio broadcast, a recording of the artist explaining his work, and a competing shrill voice correcting him provided the cacophonic sound track to the machine’s self-destruction—until it was stopped short by the fire department.
Gallery label from 2011