Mobile Art: The Aquatrope Is an Exquisite Rideable Sculpture

Craft & Design
Mobile Art: The Aquatrope Is an Exquisite Rideable Sculpture
This exhibit will be appearing at the 10th annual Maker Faire Bay Area. Don't have tickets yet? Get them here!
This exhibit will be appearing at the 10th annual Maker Faire Bay Area. Don’t have tickets yet? Get them here!

Water is integral to the lives of human beings. There’s no arguing that fact. We’re composed mainly of water, and if you’ve ever visited the desert, you know just how quickly that fact becomes apparent. The Aquatrope is part locomotion, part sculpture, and tells a story of life and water.

Created to explore how intertwined we are to water, the AQUATROPE carries with it eight distinctive art discs. Each disc communicates its own story, but collectively it conveys a powerful, holistic message about how profoundly vital water is to our human existence and to the health and survival of the natural world.

The giant spherical looking shape is actually a series of disks. Each disk has a theme that focuses on a different aspect of our lives and our interaction with water.

The goal of the project, created by Richard Wilks, is to get people thinking about water. They travel to different events, drawing a crowd with the beautiful imagery, fantastic engineering, and gorgeous lighting effects. As people ask what it means and how it was built, conversations get started about water, and how to preserve it.

Ultimately the Aquatrope is meant to inspire participation. It is a call to action to get involved, conserve our precious resources, and reconnect to nature. Imagine healthy communities with plenty of parks, clean water, and thriving natural habitats for everyone to enjoy an active, outdoor lifestyle.

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On the more technical side, you’ll find that the Aquatrope is just as fascinating. Locomotion is provided thanks to two 1000 watt hub motors in the front wheels. There’s an additional motor mounted mid-frame that can spin the disks when the driver wants to put on a show. When in “show mode” the large wheel is actually lifted off the ground by a concealed hydraulic jack allowing it to spin freely in place.

The Aquatrope with pilot for scale.
The Aquatrope with pilot for scale.

If you can’t make it to the Bay Area Maker Faire to see the Aquatrope in person, you should check out their website, where you can find more pictures of the sculpture at different events, and some background on the philosophy.

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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. find me at

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