Craig Vetter and Mystery Ship number 4 with collaborator Fujio Yoshimura on left
Dream Craig Vetter dreamed of designing a motorcycle. The success of his Windjammer fairing company in the 1970’s paved the way for the Vetter Mystery Ship.
Where’s your Mystery Ship?…Where’s mine?
I love the grainy picture to the left. This is the best part of any project, when the dream is fresh and compelling. Its debut may look like, well…a kludge. But that chunk of black Windjammer screwed to some scrap plywood is actually a beautiful idea making a jailbreak. For a few time-suspended moments, perhaps the best of his life, Craig felt the freedom, purpose and exhilaration of making a dream become real.
Art is not something that hangs on the wall. It’s what we do when we feel most fully alive. It’s working without a map…or a net. Art is building a Mystery Ship.
Our bodies seem a sort of vessel…like an Aleutian baidarka; a frame of bone connected with sinew, wrapped with skin.
It’s a complicated vessel with an apparently modest purpose. Its cargo, its entire payload, is a precious handful of mindful days.
In 1928 Rene Magritte painted a nice picture of a pipe. Then, adding a handful of words, he smoked it.
The wheel’s origin and development is a fascinating story told by an easy-to-like former professor of biology at Duke University, Steven Vogel. His just-published book, “Why the Wheel is Round”, unfortunately, is a posthumous achievement. Steve died in 2015.
The wheel is alien to nature. No living thing we can see without a microscope has an appendage that makes a complete 360 degree rotation. Instead, the muscles of virtually all living things, attached to rigid exo- or endoskeletons, create movement by pulling on cleverly hinged mechanisms in relatively short-stroke contractions.
Ironically, human technologies have taken the alien path, employing chiefly rotary motion to grind, spin, lift, drill, turn, create tools, generate power and go places.
“Why the Wheel is Round” tells how this came about.
A Perfect Circle: Linear to Rotary to Linear Motion
The Golden Age of the Wheel For the last 300 years hydrocarbon engines have flourished. They’ve proliferated as linear-to-rotary motion conversion machines, with a piston and crankshaft emulating (in reverse) a muscle and crank handle. A fabulous, relatively recent machine, the motorcycle, converts linear motion to rotary motion…and ultimately, wonderfully, back to linear!