Catch the Victorian spirit of ingenious and fantastical mechanical invention through low-tech automaton controlled by cams, cogs and levers with not a microchip in sight!

Using pre-made components, participants at the Ye Olde Hack Day workshop used basic crank and camshaft-powered mechanisms to create wonderful constuctions. This skeletal mechanism is the experimental springboard to design and create an automaton powered by hand. It can be hacked around in any way – and more complex mechanisms built-on.

Stephen Guy has been involved with automata for many years, having first discovered them at Cabaret Mechanical Theatre when it had a permanent home in London’s Covent Garden.

He specialises in devising automata workshops for museums, science centres, colleges and schools – including London’s Science Museum, the V&A, the Design Museum – and of course Cabaret. He has run experimental mechanical theatre courses at Rose Bruford College, and co-founded Fire the Inventor to promote the culture of making.

His fascination with automata is rooted in the alliance of free artistic licence with the discipline of engineering, and the idea of machines as performers and entertainers. Best of all, he likes how – with a little ingenuity and an open mind – the simplest mechanisms can produce amazing results.

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