Velocipedia by Gianluca Gimini
April 9, 2016 1:10 PM   Subscribe

I decided my job was going to be presenting the potential and the beauty inside these sketches. I selected those that I found most interesting and genuine and diverse, then rendered them as if they were real. I became the executor of these two minute projects by people who were mainly non-designers and confirmed my suspicion: everyone, regardless his age and job, can come up with extraordinary, wild, new and at times brilliant inventions.
Gianluca Gimini asked strangers to draw pictures of bicycles from memory, then proceeded to render them in 3d
posted by rebent (38 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
Wow this is a super fun project.
I like how he stayed relatively faithful to the designs, yet still made them seem real.
posted by Harpocrates at 1:16 PM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is absolutely fantastic. Thank you for posting this!
posted by Greg Nog at 1:16 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I wish that the chainrings, pedals and saddles more closely matched the original drawings, but these are wonderful. Fiorenza's pedals and Lee's backwards saddle (and his FLAG) are charming my socks off.
posted by queensissy at 1:36 PM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

the pedals turn, and the wheels turn, and the earth turns, and man turns his face away from God

and that is how bicycles work
posted by clockzero at 1:37 PM on April 9, 2016 [32 favorites]

This is amazing. I've worked on my bike enough now that I could draw it perfectly from memory, but when I started I remember getting confused about really simple things like how the chain wraps around the gears. It's amazing, because bikes aren't really that complicated, but they're just past an average human's ability to understand intuitively.
posted by miyabo at 1:41 PM on April 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

I didn't notice something wrong with that first bike, but as soon as I was told to look I figured it out. I am very proud of this.
posted by jeather at 1:49 PM on April 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

This is so delightful! Thank you!
posted by olya at 2:05 PM on April 9, 2016

The third one I thought "well that seems like it would wor- oh there's no pedals"
posted by aubilenon at 2:07 PM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

That is a surprisingly non-zero number of two-wheel-drive bicycles.
posted by sfenders at 2:28 PM on April 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

this is super charming! thanks so much!
posted by Old Kentucky Shark at 2:31 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

humans are so weird.
posted by brambleboy at 2:36 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't know if I like the sketches or the renderings more. Great stuff!
posted by comealongpole at 2:38 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's interesting that nearly everyone puts the seat above the rear wheel, way behind the pedals. Something about how we conceptualize bicycles seems to invite that error.
posted by painquale at 3:02 PM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Wow, I find this reassuring. I ride a bicycle nearly every day and yet the few times I've tried to draw one, it comes out like one of these. It's like, I can see in my mind's eye a seat here, some handlebars over here, and of course there's two wheels and then...a tangle of vaguely blurry other bits that connect it all somehow. It's like trying to recall a dream. I can figure it out slowly from the principles of how things must work mechanically, but I can't visually recall it.

I think it must be connected to what we were discussing in that thread recently about the differences in how clearly people see things when they visualise them. I think I'm on the blurry spectrum there, and I'd venture a guess that the people in this project are too.
posted by lollusc at 4:28 PM on April 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

I like the idea of trying to reconstruct memory as a physical object. It shows that memories are closer to dreams than we realize, an equally surreal fantasy world, but one that we take as fact and base daily decisions on.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:11 PM on April 9, 2016 [9 favorites]

Man, NAHBS gets weirder every year.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:18 PM on April 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

What I love about this is it's a great antidote to engineer's disease*.

I remember seeing discussion of these pictures before, and it was usually couched in a narrative like this one: Where an abnormal bike is assumed and framed to be an unintentional mistake by the artist.

Now it may be that these strange bicycles may not have been created intentionally, but they were creatively created, and that brings me back around to how they might short-circuit engineer's disease.

I, when I'm in the throes of a bout of the disease myself, upon looking at the original sketches might be compelled to illustrate the obvious failings of these bicycles. But in this case, when I look at the 3d renderings by Gimini, the "wrongness" in the sketch has been transformed into a beautiful unique quality that is not wrong at all, but the exactly right thing for that particular bike.

I imagine two different scenarios, one where the original artist takes their sketch to two different people, a diseased engineer type, and Gimini. After discussing the sketch with the DE, the artist is kind of abashed, and slightly ashamed at how they got the bike wrong. But with Gimini, I imagine their eyes lighting up with recognition and delight and exclaiming "Yes, That's the bike! That's the one - wow, I created something so cool".

These renditions created an epiphany that I feel a bit embarrassed that I hadn't fully realized before. That being not right is too often equated to being wrong ( a problem systemic in STEM courses, IMO )

It made me realize that dismissing something as being obviously wrong because of entrenched and commonly accepted reasons, is close-minded and likely a disservice all around . Rather, it would be better to take a moment and consider what would it take to make this wrong something into a solution, into something workable and useful. Doing so may not result in solving the original problem, but I could definitely see how it could shed new light, raise interesting questions, or just expand the horizons beyond the original problem space.

Thanks for this post!

* By engineer's disease I mean the need to put things into a nice tidy box and enforce that box's boundaries onto others.
posted by forforf at 5:23 PM on April 9, 2016 [12 favorites]

I love these, each and every one, and would attempt to lovingly ride them even as they broke beneath me and caused me great personal injury. All in teh name of delight and art.

Well done. Thanks for posting!
posted by cccorlew at 5:28 PM on April 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

Posted by...rebent.

Make the green one work, and it's mine for life.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:35 PM on April 9, 2016

I loved these.

Sorry to be all pedantic, but these aren't 3D renderings even though they do look like it. They're 2D illustrations. If you look at the anigif on the page you can see he's clearly using a combination of collage and illustration to produce the images.

He uses the word "render" once on the page, but that word doesn't automatically mean 3D.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:06 PM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm currently doing research on people's mental models of how email works, and have been having both people who work on email systems and people who are barely end-users (and there is a really nuanced continuum between those) draw maps of that process. So this was pleasantly familiar, in its reflections on the dreamlike grasp we have on our everyday lives.

And now I feel like I should follow this guy's lead and actually try to build email systems like their maps. Which is probably a terrible impulse.
posted by gusandrews at 6:34 PM on April 9, 2016 [8 favorites]

Has anyone in this family even seen a bicycle?
posted by RobotHero at 6:57 PM on April 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

painquale: "It's interesting that nearly everyone puts the seat above the rear wheel, way behind the pedals. Something about how we conceptualize bicycles seems to invite that error."

I'm speculating here, but maybe because you're sitting down? People think of it like sitting on a chair, where your feet are here and your butt is here?
posted by RobotHero at 7:09 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

This reminds me of If Kids Designed Their Own Xmas Toys from MAD, but much more sophisticated and fascinating.

I admit, I had to do a google image search for "bicycle" to figure out what was missing in the first image. Bicycles are weird-looking.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:09 PM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I giggled soo hard at this website while people on BART stared at me. It was the giggle version of a good belly-laugh.
posted by girl Mark at 8:59 PM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Metroid Baby, I felt the same way and had to share this with a friend who I knew would get that Mad connection! Very memorable.
posted by queensissy at 9:07 PM on April 9, 2016

The most shocking part to me is that 75% of the sketches had the bicycle facing left.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:17 PM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Me too, mbrubeck. But thinking about it, Italian is a left-headed language -- meaning it's written left-to-right, like English. If everyone started by drawing the handlebars, or drawing the front wheel first -- which you might expect, given the bike moves in that direction -- it might make sense that they did those on the left and worked their way to the right.

I guess the question is, which part of the bike did most people start drawing first? I'm guessing not the frames, given how much confusion there was about frames.

Note also: Pretty much nobody seems to have been confused about the shape of wheels. ;)
posted by gusandrews at 9:58 PM on April 9, 2016

He uses the word "render" once on the page, but that word doesn't automatically mean 3D.
To true. I lived near a rendering plant, not a lot of 3D there.
posted by boilermonster at 10:08 PM on April 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

This is a really fun thing!
posted by Harald74 at 10:20 PM on April 9, 2016

Text from friends whom I sent this link to:

"The bicycle site and ensuing conversation took us to the spiders on LSD site. "

Totally utterly logical progression.
posted by girl Mark at 10:58 PM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Apparently getting people to draw bicycles and compare them with the real thing can be "hours of Saturday night amusement"
posted by sciencegeek at 2:41 AM on April 10, 2016

Holy cow this is great.
posted by cortex at 7:13 AM on April 10, 2016

This is great.

Obviously this needs to be the inspiration for some sort of Junkyard Wars / Project Runway bicycle race reality TV show.

Teams of bike builders canvass the public for several drawings. (This is probably more fun if you set this in a place where people don't ride bikes a lot. Like, don't do this in the Netherlands.)

Then they have to choose one to build in real life, and race it. There are time bonuses and penalties for fidelity to the original drawing, as well as choosing the least plausible of the drawings you collect from the public:

Builder, squinting at drawing: "Dude, I don't even know which way is up on this one. We probably shouldn't have hit up that elementary school for drawings."

Teammate builder #2, rotates the drawing. "We are so building that."

Invite the original artists for the look of joy on their faces when they see the thing they imagined rendered in steel.
posted by thenormshow at 9:33 AM on April 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Wow... Those are some really intriguing bikes.

I have designed and built several strange bicycles, but always with a goal in mind, backed by lots of research. It's neat to see bikes designed from the opposite perspective.

As thenormshow says, it would be fascinating to see some of these tweaked for rideability and then built. If only I had infinite amounts of time and tubing!
posted by sibilatorix at 11:02 AM on April 10, 2016

I like that he did real looking pedals and handlebars, but I am undecided about how he added chains when there weren't any.
posted by jeather at 2:28 PM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is so very pleasing, and I'm really glad to see other people have this same affliction with drawing bikes. I always start off confident, draw two wheels, two vertical elements coming up from their centers, and then aimless triangle in the middle? and bikes have gears? and should I draw pedals? who am I?

Also it made me look up a real picture of a bike to settle this once and for all. I was getting off on the wrong track by not realizing the seat post is in the middle. From now on, I have a plan for victory.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:03 AM on April 11, 2016

This is so very very great.
posted by OmieWise at 6:30 AM on April 18, 2016

« Older Tony Conrad, 1940-2016-[infinite]   |   On poverty, surviving, taxes and economic justice... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments