Big Elbow (Razmo Special)



Object, 25 x 120 x 60 cm.
Materials: metal, wooden propeller, belt , pedals with cycling shoes, tape and float

Collection: Collection Galerie Jos Jamar, Antwerp.

In 1989 Panamarenko goes deep-sea diving in the Red Sea.  This yielded, aside from the design for his diver's outfit The Portuguese Man of War, also the idea for an advanced deep-sea diving apparatus that - owing to its shape - was called Elleboog (Elbow).  In order to explore the sea, the artist needed a device to dive deep in the most efficient possible way.  Two versions quickly emerged: the first driven by and electric motor, the second by human-power.  The initial design consisted of a plastic tube with perforations, and powered by an electric motor driving an 8 cm. screw-propeller.  However, the device's batteries did not last sufficiently long.

'You could advance quite well, but you could never get back!  With that electric motor in the water... that didn't work out too well...' - Panamarenko

 A short time later he made a new design, this time run on manpower.  It consisted of a shaft to which, underneath, had a screw-propeller attached, and a bit higher two pedals with belts.  During operation of this device - strapped around the diver's hips - arms and torso remain completely free. 

'You just have to peddle away with your legs, and it's just like you have a tail.  That moved you forward fast, much faster than a swimmer...' - Panamarenko

Given its likeness, he named this waterbike Grote Elleboog, also known as Big Elbow.  Panamarenko noticed that as a diver you could simultaneously use the Portuguese Man of War and the Big Elbow, and yes, then you're an underwater astronaut, right!

(source: Hans Willemse and Paul Morrens, in: 'Copyright Panamarenko', 2005)

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