A compendium of craft masquerading as art, art masquerading as craft, and craft extending its middle finger.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Psychotic Reaction


I'm a huge fan of Rube Goldberg's contraptions that he created for his comics. I also spent a lot of time setting up dominos and card houses when I was growing up. Rube Goldberg has been on my mind since I saw the amazing Rube Goldberg Honda ad. The ad, entitled "cog" was a real-life Rube contraption, and reportedly took over 600 takes to perfect. Wouldn't it be amazing if an artist took some inspiration from Mr. Goldberg? Enter sculptor Arthur Ganson. He describes himself as a cross between a mechanical engineer and a choreographer, and creates intricate chain reactions driven by electric motors and other gizmos. Check out this Quicktime video of his "Machine with wishbone". Ganson eschews fancy silicon chips in favor of more mechanical means. This retrotechnological approach increases his "wonder" factor exponentially.

Every Friday after Thanksgiving (or FAT for short), Ganson hosts an event at the MIT museum where teams bring their own homebrewed chain reactions to combine with others into one massive "Mousetrap" styled reaction.

  • Your link in the chain reaction should be no wider that 2', no taller than 4', and no longer than 6', should use no chemicals (baking soda and vinegar OK), no plug-in electricity (batteries and low-power DC OK), or use more than a cup of water.
  • Your link must BEGIN and END by a string pull. Be sure that it takes no more force than the hanging weight of a golf ball moving 1" to start your link and ends by pulling a string AT LEAST 1" with enough force to lift a golf ball.
  • Your link must be repeatable.
  • Test your chain reaction before bringing it to the event.
  • Make your event last AT LEAST 30 seconds and end in LESS THAN three minutes. Give your audience time to enjoy your event, be it funny, playful, clever, whimsical, or elegant.


  • If you're looking for a great way to burn off those Thanksgiving calories, you could do a lot worse than playing MacGyver at the MIT museum.

    LINK via Supernaturale

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