It is exactly as strange as it sounds.
I’ve spent the past hour watching five full grown adults race 3D printed head versions of themselves on a rotating track complete with hazards, lights, and clearly incompetent drivers. The entire activity is a stunt to promote Urbanears‘ headsets, which are worn by the racing heads. The first step in the racing head madness was to build the 3D printed heads, then a microphone was inserted into the ear of each. The heads are then mounted on top of the chassis of a remote controlled car.
Each contestant controls their own head via an app on their smartphone. The speed and directional signals are sent to the racing head by tapping one of four gray scale “buttons” on the phone’s screen. Each button corresponds to a particular one and that tone is what drives the head. It is a noise based radio controlled car…with a 3D printed, disturbingly life-like head mounted on top of it.
The race features five top internet personalities, with handles such as Strawberry17 and Tobygames each trying desperately not to crash into each other or be foiled by vengeance balls. I have to admit it looked like it would be fun. A continuous stream of bizarre commentary and color commentating gave the race an air of frenzy reinforced by the continual traffic jams caused when the heads collided and required external assistance to disentangle.
Strawburry17 is known by those who love her best as Megan Camarena who runs a website and has her own Youtube channel. Despite her popularity, she came in dead last in the head race. Tobygames, Toby Turner when he’s at home, has 15.2 million Youtube followers and over 3 billion hits on his channel. When he’s not racing his severed head on a race track, he is a stand up comedian.
Jax, coming to the racing group via American Idol, and introduced as being the “best singer, songwriter in the history of the world and space and time,” notes of the heads:
“Yeah, it’s kind of creepy, everyone on Twitter agrees. I’ve actually gotten some comments that are like ‘wow, I like you better than your fake head.”
I’m not convinced that supports her point, but it does show that people are startled into action by the surprising parity between life and simulacra. Where are the great philosophers of the Western world when you need them, right? Obviously, not on Youtube.
The track itself has panels which light up with particular colors, and fans had the chance to guess the color that would be run over by their favorite racer. In return for this strange assignment, 30 of them received their own set of headphones. What did the winners of the race receive? Why the full size 3D printed head that so uncannily replicates the very one they have on their own shoulders, a trophy, and more internet personality points.
The heads really and truly do look life-like. If Marie Antoinette had had access to 3D printing technology she could have lost her head and still kept her life. Check out the videos of the 3D printed head race below, and let us know your thoughts on this as a promotional tool for Urbanears in the 3D Printed Racing Head Forum thread on 3DPB.com.