Duane Flatmo, Humboldt County’s mural-painting, kinetic-sculpting, Tonight Show-appearing, LoCO-cartooning celebrity artist extraordinaire, created quite a sensation with his art car sculpture El Pulpo Mecanico. A massive steampunk octopus mounted atop a Ford van chassis, the mechanized beast features googly eyes, a row of fanged mouths and eight articulated tentacles that belch fireballs into the night sky.
Not only did the pyrotechnic cephalopod take Burning Man by storm, but El Pulpo wound up appearing on both The Simpsons and HBO’s Last Week Tonight, traveling to Canada and San Francisco, and even inspiring a tongue-in-cheek religion called The Church of El Pulpo Mecanico, whose adherents call Flatmo “the Blessed Maker.”
Well, this year brings good news for those worshipers — and all other Flatmo fans: He’s been busy constructing a new art car sculpture, which will be mounted atop the same van chassis that held El Pulpo. The new beast, called Rabid Transit, looks like a robotic mutant fever dream from the Island of Dr. Moreau. Everywhere you look there’s a different, vaguely nightmarish creature.
Here’s an early conceptual drawing:
And here are some of the creatures under construction in the lab:
And these things don’t just stare at you with their vacant metal eyes. “All these creatures move,” Flatmo told us. And he showed us videos to prove it:
In a social media post, Flatmo said he and his collaborators struggled to come up with a new vision.
“To tell you the truth, we kept coming up with ideas that were pale in comparison to El Pulpo,” he wrote. In a phone interview yesterday he described the new concept. “I thought, what if I built a truck full of these animals and animate it all — have so much going on that you can’t take it all in, but you can still hone in on all the [individual] characters.”
Oh, and those characters will all shoot flames, naturally.
Below is another conceptual illustration, though Flatmo said on Facebook that it’s not a blueprint.
“This mutant vehicle will be close to this drawing, but not exact,” he said. “Many of the coolest ideas come to existence while we’re building it.”
Sadly, this rolling mecha-mutant won’t participate in this weekend’s kinetic festivities. (We sorta doubt it can float.) So in order to see Rabid Transit in action you may have to travel to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert in September — or hope it gets famous enough to be get on TV.