December 22, 2009

Joyous Machines at Tate Liverpool

A few weeks ago, Michael Dales recommended the Joyous Machines exhibition at Tate Liverpool to me. I've had a busy few weeks, but having got some work completed and invoiced yesterday, I rewarded myself with a trip down to see what it was like.

Michael's right, it was the sort of thing that's right up my street. It was great to see that someone (Jean Tinguely) was experimenting with making art from motors and bits of metal and wood in the 1960s, and there are some really nice intricate workings to the pieces. Lots of bent steel wire, cogs and pulleys - I was as interested in the mechanisms as the art part of it. Naturally, I came away with a head full of ideas about how you could reinterpret the themes for a modern day and incorporate some form of external data source as a driver for the mechanism.

I did also think that some Arduinos could've been usefully employed to improve the display of some of the artworks. As they're getting a bit old and fragile, some only worked for one minute in every fifteen, but there was no way to know when the time period would be up; they weren't on a regular schedule, there were nice chunky red-domed buttons mounted on the floor to start the machines, so something triggered off that to run a simple countdown display would've let you know if it was worth waiting around to see it in action.

It's a shame that none of the sonorous pieces were set up to work - from looking at the mechanism (and from watching the video of the Homage to New York piece) there seemed some interesting mechanisms for making sounds, and I'd have loved to have seen and heard them in action.

It was also disappointing that the meta-machines weren't operating yesterday. The machine-drawn artworks they produced reminded me of the vibrobots and brushbots from Howduino events, although produced with more elaborate mechanicals.

But, minor gripes aside, a lovely exhibition for anyone into tinkering, brushbot art and the like. You've got a couple more weeks to catch it - it finishes on 10th January.

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Posted by Adrian at December 22, 2009 10:10 AM | TrackBack

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