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Technorama Museum

Brochure: Art Machines at Technorama

Winterthur, Switzerland

Translation from the German by Dominik Essing and Christiana Reiss-Schmidt , edited by Norman Tuck

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Art Machines

Art Machines that tick, sound, spin, swing - and live.
Now on exhibition in a special exhibition at Technorama - in the tent until September 19th, 1993.

Gears and lemons, balls and cranks, magnets and metal - from these materials Norman Tuck (USA) creates art. Even bowling balls are part of this whimsical collection of mostly ticking and time measuring “techno” art pieces by this American. Ironically, even the icon of high-tech appears in this recycling of old mechanisms - the computer chip! Art Machines is contemplative and amusing in the manner of the sketches of men like Leonardo da Vinci. The sounds of these machines remind one of Tinguely, but they emphasize his poetry rather than his mockingly strange mechanisms. 

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Art Machines needs to be experienced, rather than understood. 

Most of these kinetic sculptures are the result of an imaginative recycling of old mechanisms. 

The work often requires the hands-on participation of visitors. The more delicate the handling the more amusing! But, usually the experience is one of thoughtful and intense observation: “Brains-on” rather than “hands-on” (fiddling around or even grabbing).

Wave Generator: From a distance it looks like water waves, but close-up it becomes an experiment in amplitude, frequency and resonance. The physics of waves becomes and ingeniously memorable “ah-ha” experience. 

Conical Clock: Bicycle parts, a plumb bob, and a fishing rod combine to become a precise clockwork mechanism. Instead of swinging back and forth as usual, the pendulum revolves around the central element in a prescribed period of time. 

The representation and measurement of time runs like a golden thread throughout these “art machines” which technically function perfectly well, but, as a matter of fact, do not achieve or even produce anything at all.

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There Will Be Time: Precision mechanics can emerge simplisticly: Combine an old coffee can, small materials from a plumber’s box, and a string - the result is a strange, or even impossible mechanism that functions perfectly well as a clockwork escapement.

The artist and tinkerer has perfectly succeeded in his whimsical, humorous approach to physics.

The seemingly complicated mechanisms appear, under closer observation, surprisingly accessible and comprehensible. Even more, they are a visual and sensual delight. They make you dream and trigger your imagination.

Disco: The gears of on old MG and a spinning platform become a magic carrousel: The faster you push against the wooden bar, the faster the platform reverses beneath your feet.
Experience technology as simple “chit-chat!”

Timeless: This primitive work lacks the appearance of precision mechanism. Yet, after one winding it runs for five hours with impressive continuity and precision. 

“Happy smiles on children’s faces. Children’s smiles on adult’s faces.”

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Art Machines: Modern technology does not sound like that. This is “music“ of a bygone era that can be rediscovered.

Art Machines (re-) generates the enjoyment of simple mechanics and leads to the surprising insight that technology can make you smile.

Finally, a tip for schools: This Technorama special exhibition is again(!) a welcome source of inspiration; a real “el dorado” for teachers who look for exciting and inspiring workshops and projects.

Water Wheel: Sometimes sounding and looking like a wild white-water river; sometimes like a gently flowing stream of water; this effect is simply created with only 3 or 4 liters of water running inside a turning “Ferris Wheel” made of steel rings, steel rods, and plastic foil. 

Travel instructions and scheduling for Art Machines at Technorama.

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