Bing of the Ferro Lusto is a prototype for a larger spacecraft Ferro Lusto, a project which has preoccupied Panamarenko since the early seventies. When it is built it will be 800m long and accommodate 4,000 people (the same number, says the artist, as the Praetorian guards of the Roman Emperors). Bing of the Ferro Lusto was designed to facilitate the subsequent construction of the Bing Motors which are themselves built according to the principles set down in Toymodel of Space.
© Maths Museum
'Pop-mixture' - the main material used to make this - is a sort of specially woven glass fibre. If you put liquid plastic (epoxy) on to it, it pops up. It swells and becomes a double layer with fine-fibres that keep the two layers apart with a hollow space between them forming a double wall automatically because of the capillary action in the plastic. I invented the name 'pop-mixture' to describe the way in which it pops up. It is cast from this material using moulds. Each of the eight fractions of the sphere is cast from the same mould and each section of the skirt that goes around it is cast from a different mould. When you cut glass fibre it makes a sort of stuff like glass wool and this forms balls - like the pompons that you have on your slippers. You can use it to fill up the holes in the pop-mixture and if it is done well you are left with a completely smooth section of fibreglass.
This mock-up has two electric motors inside the sphere which blow air onto the four rollers concealed beneath the skirt of the saucer. The rollers don't need to be as big as they are on this mock-up. 'Bing Motors' are like 'Bing Motor 1' but would be far more realistic, since they can rotate much faster and therefore produce a greater centrifugal force. Also, because they are made of titanium, they are much smaller and lighter than the motors here.
Once the motors are started they don't use any energy but instead deflect the existing speed of the earth's rotation. They operate like boomerangs. If you throw a boomerang in the air it flies in a zigzag and comes back to you, but if it were to have steering gears then its direction could be controlled. The 'Bing Motors' which drive the space-ship operate on the same principle. Because space is curved around the earth, the empty vacuum has an effect on the 'Bing Motor' so that the spaceship curves away from the earth and is sent in the opposite direction. The spaceship cannot go too far into space because in order for it to return to Planet Earth it would have to be attracted by gravitational force. As long as the spaceship stayed reasonably close to Earth, this would not be a problem and it could be used for express, short-range exploration; to the Moon, or even to Mars.
Gall, quartz, pop-mixture, pompon, epoxy resin, aramide, magnetic ball bearings, engine for compressed air.
SMAK, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent