Titanoboa: The Story
60 million years ago in the sweltering heat of a climate 6 to 8 degrees warmer than today lived a monstrous snake called Titanoboa. It was only at these warmer temperatures which are at the upper end of climate change predictions that the cold blooded beast was able to reach these sizes. Today, as fossilized life is exhumed and burned relentlessly to fuel modern progress, primordial spirits have been stirring. This fossil beast has been brought back to life as a provocative omen on the eve of catastrophe.
Titanoboa is an independent art project that seeks to reincarnate this 50 foot, 1 ton beast as an electromechanical serpent machine meant to provoke discussions about climate change and energy use. This giant electromechanical reincarnation roams the earth terrifying and enlightening those who dare to ride the snake along the razor’s edge between hope and fear and contemplate the future of our planet.
The Titanoboa project is an exercise in alternative forms of propulsion and power applications in transport. The purpose is to showcase this experiment by harnessing and enlarging the mesmerizing movement of the snake. The complex control needed to properly move hundreds of individual parts necessitates a skilled operator who has taken time to become at one with the serpent.
Finally, the Titanoboa project attempts to create an environment through its design and construction that facilitates technical learning on relevant technologies. Student involvement is ongoing in the design and manufacturing with the hopes of luring young minds into the exciting world of engineered kinetic sculpture while exploring implications of climate change and electric vehicle power systems. Several student projects were completed and continue in the areas of robotics, controls, and mechanical design.
Titanoboa was built by Charlie Brinson, Jonathan Faille, Hugh Patterson, Michelle La Haye, Markus Hager, James Simard, and Julian Fong, along with the larger Titanoboa crew. Initial construction took place in 2011 and the machine’s full length was finished in 2015.
Check out our media page to see videos of Titanoboa in action!
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For more technical detail go here