A rolling stone gathers no moss as they say, but this collection of stones manipulated by electromechanical devices are capable of performing George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” thanks to artist Neil Mendoza. Titled Rock Band, this kinetic sound art installation is actually four different instruments including a xylophone, a buzzing base, two spinners, and a pair of slappers. Mendoza describes how each device works:
Xylophone: Inside each of the tubes is a small pebble. When the Teensy receives a note for this instrument, it triggers a solenoid (electromagnet), to launch the pebble up a tube and strike a key. For the design of this piece, I wrote a piece of software that calculated the size each key needed to be to produce the appropriate frequency and then cut them out using a water jet cutter.
Bass: This is the small marble circle in the front. When the Teensy receives a note for this one, it causes the plunger of a solenoid (electromagnet) to vibrate at the frequency of the appropriate musical note against the rock.
Spinners: These are the two large objects on either side and are percussive. Inside each of these, there are two magnets attached to each end of a shaft. On the outside, there are two magnetic rocks, Hematite, that are attracted to the magnets on the inside. When a note is received, the shaft spins and one of the rocks is guided away from its magnet and launched through the air. It lands on a piece of marble that has been cut to size to fit in the machine.
Slapper: These slap the rocks with pieces of fake leather and provide some light percussion.
All of the machines were built at Autodesk’s Pier 9 workshop in San Francisco as part of their artist in residence program. You can see more of Mendoza’s mechanical works on his website.
Perched in the sky fifty-two stories above Tokyo, a new exhibition celebrates a 30-year retrospective of Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation studio famous for anime films like Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Princess Mononoke. The centerpiece of the Studio Ghibli Expo is a room filled with various airships from several Ghibli films, specifically a sizeable illuminated replica of a ship from Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky that rises and falls as if airborne, complete with dozens of whirring propellers. The retrospective also includes original artwork, interactive exhibits, and a small cafe serving 11 dishes inspired by different films. You can additional photos and read more about it on The Creator’s Project and RocketNews24.
In the early 1970s a man named Bruno (previously) started building simple rides in a forested area in northern Italy near his family’s restaurant in an attempt to attract customers. Osteria ai Pioppi is now a sprawling complex of nearly 50 rides powered completely by hand with pulleys, bicycle cranks, and gravity, and is now a major destination for locals and tourists to Battaglia. Talk about a novel approach to advertising. Bruno refers to the theme park as an “ecological park” and says he’s often inspired by movements or patterns found in nature which he tries to replicate in his wildly varied rides. This new video from Great Big Story gives us a quick glimpse of the many rides Bruno has built from hand over the last 40 years.
Performing the role of a scientist, Benjamin Maus and Prokop Bartonicek’s kinetic machine Jller selects and sorts pebbles found on a 6 1/2 x 13 foot platform into a grid organized by geologic age. Without assistance, Jller analyzes the stones’ appearance to understand their correct placement, then transports them to the correct location.
All of the rocks for the project were extracted from a German river of the machine’s own name, pebbles that are either the result of erosion in the Alps or have been transported by glaciers. Because the history of this sample location within the river is known, it is a relatively straightforward process to assign each stone its geological age. To do this, Jller first analyzes an image of the stone it selects, extracting information like dominant color, color composition, lines, layers, patterns, grain, and surface texture. The machine then places the stones in alignment of age and type by sucking them into an industrial vacuum gripper and dropping them in the correct location within the grid.
The project is part of ongoing research in the field of industrial automation and historical geology, and was presented last December as a part of the exhibition “Ignorance” at Ex Post in Prague. The full video of the project can be seen below.
As part of an exhibition last December at the Maison Des Jonglages (House of Juggling) in La Courneuve, France, magician and juggler Antoine Terrieux created this series of kinetic artworks using different arrangements of hair dryers. The dryers were positioned in such a way as to create an updraft for a paper airplane to fly around, a spinning vortex of water vapor, and other unexpected configurations. Terrieux also incorporates hair dryers into his performances. (via La boite verte)
If you enjoyed John Edmark’s trippy 3D-printed zoetrope sculptures last week, you might also enjoy some of his kinetic sculptures that rely on excruciatingly precise laser-cut wood and internal mechanisms to create optical illusions and other unexpected behaviors. Edmark describes these as “instruments that amplify our awareness of the sometimes tenuous relationship between facts and perception.” Here are three of my favorites, but you can see many more on his website.
Update: John Edmark’s Helicone toy is now available in the Colossal Shop.