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Magical Spring Automata by Keith Newstead

March 18, 2015 by  

Unicorn by Keith NewsteadWe have two new designs from Keith Newstead to celebrate the coming of Spring. The mythical Unicorn and leaping Hare are the latest pieces to join our lively mechanical menagerie.

Unicorn by Keith Newstead Unicorn by Keith Newstead
…more info

£130 (excl. VAT)

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March Hare by Keith Newstead March Hare by Keith Newstead
…more info

£130 (excl. VAT)

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The Misplaced Museum

March 18, 2015 by  

The Misplaced MuseumThe Misplaced Museum
until March 28th 2015

Six of our automata exhibits are enchanting visitors at the House of Fairytales latest exhibition in Kingston-upon-Thames.

Free Entry: Tues – Sat 11am – 5pm / Wed Late – 7pm
The Stanley Picker Gallery,
Kingston School of Art,
Knights Park,
Kingston-upon-Thames, KT1 2QJ

A Machine for Computing the Names of 13,500 Ventriloquist’s Dummies

March 18, 2015 by  

We’re delving into the archives to take a closer look at some of Paul Spooner’s automata. This piece is from 2010.

This machine is reminiscent of one of Paul’s very first machines (1969) which was an art criticism machine that he made while at art school. It is A Machine for Computing the Names of 13,500 Ventriloquists Dummies. Paul tells us more about the mechanics and history of the machine.

270w x 450h x 110d

At art school I made a thing I called an ideas machine. It was like a one-armed bandit except that one arm was missing and it displayed words instead of fruit. The three drums rotated then stopped in a randomish way. On the first two drums were adjectives, on the third, nouns. I calibrated it with words I heard about me at the art school. Thus you got combinations like “RANDOM MECHANICAL OBJECT” or “INTERESTING CONCRETE DIALOGUE” or “VIBRANT MINIMAL EXPERIMENT”. There were 36 words on each drum, so it could produce 46,656 different combinations. The machine had a steel frame, two motors, drive bands, magnets and lots of little bits of steel that registered with the magnets to align the words when the machine stopped. It took weeks to make. I found this slide of it, less than half-finished, taken at Cardiff College of Art in 1969.

To me, it has the same forlorn look as the famous picture of Vaucanson’s duck, taken shortly before it was lost. We don’t know much about the fate of the duck but I know that my ideas machine was taken to pieces and made into other things. It was also a lot more rubbishy than the duck.

Now I’ve made another random word machine designed to make up names for ventriloquists’ dummies. The first names are taken from a list of comedy Christian names, then there’s an initial, followed by a bisyllabic surname.

The model for this type of name is that assumed by Groucho Marx in “Duck Soup”; Rufus T Firefly.

Although Colin Pitchfork, the first person to be convicted of murder using DNA evidence and Spencer Broomhead, a man once to be found in the Seven Stars pub in Stithians, lack middle initials, I had to include them because their names are in every other way perfect examples of the kind a ventriloquist’s dummy ought to have.

Too late, I thought of splitting the third drum in two, which would have produced such novelties as Pitchhead and Broomfork. And Stinkpop and Pramstorm and Moonscratch and 895 others.

This second machine took less time to make, has fewer parts and works better than the first. It uses a friction drive which is constantly applied to the 3 cylinders via 3 adjustable conical drums. A slowly-moving camshaft causes 3 levers to interrupt the cylinders at different times thus scrambling the stopping positions.

– Paul Spooner

Novelty Automation

January 28, 2015 by  

The new London arcade of home-made coin operated machines built by enthusiasts – opens February 11th 2015 (twinned with ‘The Under The Pier Show’ seaside arcade)

Tim Hunkin’s new arcade of slot machines, including some old favourites from CMT’s Covent Garden days -The Frisker, Test Your Nerve and The Chiropodist.
Novelty Automation is a mix of humour and engineering. It’s a new home for Tim Hunkin’s arcade machines, with some guest machines made by kindred spirits.

1a Princeton St, London WC1R 4AX

Opening hours – (from Wednesday Feb 11th):
Wednesday 11am – 6pm
Thursday 11am – 7pm
Friday 11am – 6pm
Saturday 11am – 6pm

See more information on the Novelty Automation Website

Mechanicals at Wilton’s Music Hall

January 28, 2015 by  

Mechanicals at Wilton'sOur Mechanicals exhibition will be at Wiltons Music Hall from 12th to 17th February, as part of a series of making events with Fire the Inventor, for adults and children.

12th – 13th February Making Nights, with wine and music.
14th February, Exhibition and Family Workshop
16th February and 17th February Half Term fun and Family Workshop.

Fire The InventorWilton’s Music Hall

Wilton’s Music Hall is in Graces Alley, London E1 8JB

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