108 ambulances - Make: Community
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108 ambulances

By peter cole

This project is a sculpture that hangs in midair, and features a steel mobius strip long enough to support 108 toy ambulances sourced from all over the world that drive forward in perpetuity.

Type: Artistic

State: ny
Country: United States
Affiliation: None


What inspired you or what is the idea that got you started?

As an artist who works with found materials, I have been making collections of 108 objects as homage to that number, sacred across cultures and eons. I began the project long before the pandemic, but as the health crisis unfolded globally it became more urgent to finish the collection and present it. As 108 references a circular prayer necklace, this sculpture is also circular. It is also endless, in that the roadway the ambulances drive on is also a Möbius strip.

What is your project about and how does it work?

My project is an inspirational sculpture that references history, religion, collection, and devotion through the sacred number 108. It is a collection of that number of toy ambulances, sourced from all over the world, that drive forever on a substantial steel Möbius strip that hangs in mid-air. I formed the steel strip by hand, in a small studio, and welded the parts together to form a seamless whole.

What did you learn by doing this project?

I learned stamina and follow-through on this project. It's incredibly hard to make a solid steel flat bar curve gracefully around and meet itself after making a turn in midair. I needed to lay a temporary protective floor in my studio and used my handmade benders to form the steel for the strip. It took many weeks to make, and each work day ended in exhaustion and frustration as I pushed myself to the limits. After many days of this, I was rewarded when the two ends of the steel finally approached each other. Practiced alongside this was the patience to gradually accumulate the requisite number of ambulances, about a three-year project.

What impact does your project have on others as well as yourself?

I hope that the sculpture inspires further understanding of the number 108 in its many manifestations, as well as evokes pure wonder at the sheer physicality of the piece, how was it made? How does it hang? How heavy is it? Are there really 108 ambulances on it? Look, dad, I have that one!

As the video explains, it is a sacred number across cultures, and I would expect the piece to act as an ambassador for understanding about a number of important mystical traditions from Europe to Asia at a time of increased need for cross-cultural acceptance.