28 Nov Oakland North: In West Oakland, artists build lifesize submarine merging nostalgia and futurism
Deep in West Oakland, a collective of artists called Five Ton Crane (5TC) is hard at work tuning up their submarine. Although it doesnâ€™t go underwater, there seems to be little else this lifesize vessel canâ€™t doâ€”it even defends its perimeters with a water spear gun and bumps tunes from its built-in iPad technology. Itâ€™s structured with all the romantic details of retro-futurismâ€“that is, modeling art after old school design, and then amplifying it with futuristic technology. When the artists, who recently returned from Burning Man, need to take a break, they head inside the sub to a spot theyâ€™ve dubbed â€œthe make-out roomâ€ and sip from a vintage bottle in the mini-bar.
â€œWe aim to be, rather than to seem,â€ said Sean Orlando, one of the lead artists of the Nautilus, who says his favorite spot is in the captainâ€™s chair. â€œItâ€™s important for us, with these large projects, that they remain immersive and interactive, and that people can climb around in them, drive around in them.â€
This is the third large-scale installation Five Ton Crane has made. In 2007 they constructed a Tree House, and in 2009 they built the Raygun Gothic Rocketship, which is currently on display along San Franciscoâ€™s Embarcadero waterfront. The group gets its funding from private donations, and the staff are volunteers, making their childhood dreams of tree houses, rockets, and submarines a reality.
â€œAll the things that people see in print but actually canâ€™t imagineâ€”we flesh them out,â€ Five Ton Crane artist Jay Kravitz said. â€œWe make big toys for adults to play with.â€