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Ground Effect Machine


Lucinda Childs and engineers testing the Ground Effect Machine
Engineers at work on the Ground Effect Machine Lucinda Childs, Vehicle Lucinda Childs, Vehicle
Tool Identification

Name of tool: Ground Effect Machine
Creation date: 1966
Designer: Per Biorn

Historical Notice

The original idea was to move about on a cushion of air. As the platform designed by Per Biorn was difficult to manœuvre, a metal and plexiglass cubicle was added to it. It thus became easier to direct when propelled from the exterior.

Tool Description

The Ground Effect Machine was a metal and plexiglass cubicle (much like a phone booth), which moved about the performance area on an air cushion.

Summary of Materials

Cubicle and two vacuum cleaner motors.


Light, metal and plexiglass structure, two vacuum cleaner motors originally used in General Motors refrigerators.

Operating Procedure

Two vacuum cleaner motors created an air cushion, which slightly raised the cubicle from the floor. Anyone standing inside shifting their weight from side to side could make the device move.


Movement of a person on an air cushion.

Documents Consulted 

9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, Pontus Hultén and Frank Königsberg eds. ([New York]: Experiments in Art and Technology; The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, [1966]) [12] p.

Lucinda Childs, “Lucinda Childs : a portfolio,” Artforum, Vol. XI, no. 6 (Feb. 1973) p. 50-56.

Interview with Per Biorn / produced by the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology; interviewers: Vincent Bonin, Éric Legendre, Julie Martin (Shot the 25 of August, 2004), 4 videocassettes (3 hr., 45 min.): master, col., sound, Mini-DV. Interview made the 25 of August, 2004 in Berkeley Heights (N.J. USA). VID 00031593 / M.

Vincent Bonin © 2006 FDL