The making of video as done by INSIDER invention media.
I was living in London for three years. With all of my travels through Europe the idea of a "selfie" as a way to say, "I was here!" was constant.While there I furthered my interest in mechanical automata as an artist. For me the pinnacle of this expression of self through a machine was my "Selfie Machine". To date the most
technically complicated scratch built machine I have made. It is comprised of two intricate cams
that are read in a very analog way by cam followers. The front cam moves the pen up and down
and the rear side to side. In tandem they draw. When the crank is turned the pen magically springs to life and draws, me. Cleft and all. Over and over. What appears at first as a magic trick is a machine that has a historical precedent. Drawing machines have been around since the 1780's. The pinnacle of engineering and art in the form of writing automata over time became tin toy clowns in the 1890's that could draw Queen Victoria or Napoleon with interchangeable cams. I have studied automata through the ages as a hobby and decided it was time to try and make my own drawing machine. I had figured out the mechanism and worked backwards from a master drawing that was done in one continuous line. Tracing that and transferring the coordinates to two custom cams allowed me to reverse engineer my drawing. It took weeks of work to get to the point where my machine drew its first portrait. It was horrible but it was a face. Over the next month by adding and subtracting to the cams I refined the drawing into what it produces today. I left all of the adjustments for everyone to see. These are my imperfections and flaws and my vain attempts to
correct them. The Selfie machine captures that moment. I was there. Given more time I imagined touring London with my contraption, surreptitiously placing it on walls and in 20 seconds saying, "I was here!" The ultimate Selfie.
Yesterday I went to the World Wood Day expo at the Long Beach Convention Center. It is an amazing event with tons of interesting people from all over the world united by wood. There I met automata maker Kazu Harada from Japan. What a talented mechanical artist he is. Tom Haney was also there presenting his work. This is a short video I shot of Hazu's work and him. Kazuaki Harada studied art history at Yamaguchi University, and contemporary crafts at University collage of Falmouth. He began making automata in 2002 and launched his workshop in 2008. He runs it with his wife, Megumi Harada. The automata he makes are hand-cranked, using several kinds of wood as materials. He aims to make people smile. nizo.jp
I first met Stephen at a Cabaret Mechanical Theater show in London. I like his gung-ho spirit and resourcefulness.. Stephen is a maker and teacher in London. Using some simple materials like chopsticks, cardboard, glue and foam adhesive disks he manages to make some pretty cool pieces with kids. Mostly cams and lifters here.
Michael Thompson is an artist living in Chicago who has a long history for subversive and thought provoking art. He started early in his career making kites that were covered in interesting asian paper goods. He is well know for fake stamps that he created and has sent through the mail. They are much sought after when the one that has been sent and cancelled is recovered along with the envelope and the original block of stamps that it was taken from. He has also explored the mechanical. Often getting their start with Erector sets and found objects. Often irreverent. Alway unique. This interview and tour of his studio I did in 2007 and 2008.