Artist Julijonas Urbonas came up with a rollercoaster that literally takes your breath away! But what exactly is it?
In 2010, artist Julijonas designed and made a hypothetical roller coaster that was capable of killing its passengers. According to him, its practical application is to embody “execution” or “euthanasia”. He even describes his hypothetical coaster, named as Euthanasia coaster as a death machine engineered to humanely, that is, with ‘elegance and euphoria’, take the life of a human being. This coaster starts with a long, slow climb before a 500m drop, which unfolds into a series of loops that are designed to create an intense centrifugal force so that you are unable to breathe, and finally, die from the lack of oxygen.
The underlying purpose for the ideation and design of this roller coaster is to curb overpopulation in a theoretical future or to help people who feel their life has gone on for “too long” or even people who wish to resort to euthanasia.
Even though it seems like this idea was borrowed from some science fiction tv drama, like Black Mirror, that is not the case here. The roller coaster was created to serve a sympathetic purpose, which is to give someone the ability to bow out of life with one final, lethal thrill.
And, although, the idea is not even remotely close to becoming a reality, the artist says that he would like to finish his life on a high note. (That is, if the roller coaster is ever made. So you get the pun, right?)
The key to the death component of the ride, is present in its design. The design layout starts with a steep sloped lift which is 510 meters long, up till the top. the train covers this distance in around 2 minutes. Upon reaching the top, passengers are even given the option of getting off; however, if the chose to continue, there is a sudden drop that follows, and the speed of the train increases to 220mph, which is extremely close to its terminal velocity, before it gears up for the seven inversions laying ahead.
There are a total of seven clothoid inversions that follow the drop. Every successive inversion lead to the decrease in the diameter, so as to maintain the lethal 10g of the gravitational force turns to the passengers when the train is losing its speed. This causes the passenger’s supply of oxygen getting cut and leads to an eventual (also, instant) death. Then the train moves to pickup new passengers and unload the bodies.
The Amalgamation Of Three Values
While ideating this, Urbonias attached a sentimental value to it. In a model where an individual is dying of cerebral hypoxia (that is, a severe lack of oxygen), he depicted it to be a combination of ‘pleasure’ with ‘elegance’, that is, to highlight – the aesthetic, psychological, as well as ethical definitions of pleasure.
The coaster is an amalgamation of all the three values. The psychological value is exhibited when during the entry into the first loop, the passengers would experience GLOC. That is, the force induced by gravity- induced loss of consciousness- which would be accompanied with cerebral hypoxia. This entire physiological trip, according to the artist, will be death induced with euphoria.
Apart from these physiological pleasures, the design of the roller coaster is such that it euphemises ‘execution’ and depicts the potential for a unique kind of fatal aesthetic. The numerous loops in the ride prolong death but also serve as a distinct experience. When the train rushes to the ground, before entering the loop, there is a fraction of time for reflection before death comes. It is like a buffer period between life and death and that miniscule moment is what sets this ride apart.
The Euthanasia coaster materialising into a real-life thing is a little too utopian, but even as a piece of art, it is not a source of much joy. If getting into the technicalities of it, the workings of it are preposterous. Not just that, its target audience is actually dubious. Death is still a tragic subject and humanity mostly lives in denial of its mortality, but so is Euthanasia. The artist comprehended that this could solve the issue of ‘overpopulation’ and ‘living too long’ but its just too gruesome to be passed off as a Unique Selling Proposition. That being said, would you want to ride this death coaster?