As Far As I Can Tell

Two projects I keep smiling about

There are a handful of art projects I’m enamored with right now. One is from Jin-Yo Mok and Gicheol Lee, students at the NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program. They created a giant, hand cranked music box rigged up to a computer that allows people to make their own patterns and then turn the handle to play it. You see the musical pattern you’re designing on the screen and simultaneously see the appropriate “notes” on the physical structure light up.

The website has a journal following the development of the project complete with videos, images, and source code. This is an awesome level of insight into the construction of a physical computing project.

MusicBox with computer interface Photo by Jin-Yo Mok.

I found out about Theo Jansen from the quite excellent and woefully under attended Ars Electronica presentation at this year’s SXSW. For the last 14 years he’s made giant moving creatures, mostly out of yellow plastic tubes. Despite their simple materials his creations are independently mobile and incredibly complex. Imagine a twelve foot high skeletal robot made of nothing but electrical tubing lumbering along the beach through complex wind driven joints. This is jaw dropping work.

Animaris on Beach

The latest evolution is the Animaris Rhinoceros Transport, a 15 foot tall monster made of two tons of steel yet able to be pulled by a single man. It uses wind power to make up the difference and as the name implies you can ride in it too. This is not a motorized vehicle. This is a giant, walking, dinosaur sized steel animal!

There are photos and videos of his creations on his website. Unfortunately the only other materials available are in Dutch.

Animaris Rhinoceros Transport This and previous photo by Lourens Van Der Klis.



Thanks for your comment chez moi. These creatures look like physical metaphors for writing a book….

Posted by: John Thackara on April 29, 2005 11:04 AM

just saw your new flickr photos. did 1977 get a new space, or go under, or something?

Posted by: jim on May 3, 2005 4:58 PM

They moved to a new location. Smaller but better and downtown.

Posted by: Simon on May 3, 2005 5:09 PM

awesome. are you going to be in chicago this month?

Posted by: jim on May 3, 2005 11:32 PM

hey! that music box thingie was at the joanna newsom/handsome family show that i went to yesterday, since it was to kick off wired’s NEXTfest. the artist showed me how to use it! very awesome. if you’re going to be here for that, let me know.

Posted by: jim on June 23, 2005 1:40 PM

Nature’s games

I spoke too early about the weather in my last entry and now it’s 30 degrees and snowing like it’s January. I’m always careful to leave my mopeds in storage until I’m sure the snow is done, but I got tricked this year.

My Dad and I went up to the Allegan Antique Market even though it was probably too cold to go. We wandered around the booths with hoods up and gloves on. I always like to look at the typographic items like alphabet stamps, metal type, and weathered signage. The first thing I ran into was an old lettering guide that I’d never seen before. It used a compass-like device that held graphite on one end and allowed you to trace indented letters on a plastic card while moving the device along a straight line. Sort of like a super deluxe stenciling kit.

Mopeds in the snow



I missed you Motobecane

Lots of exciting things going on this week in Internet land. For one, Flickr has lowered their pricing and increased their offerings as a result of their acquisition by Yahoo!, so I bought a pro account. Flickr is probably the most exciting site on the web today, forging new ground with tagging capabilities, innovative use of AJAX to allow inline editing, and an extremely open API to dip into. So until I get my proper photo weblog set up you can check out my Flickr page.

Secondly, Adobe bought Macromedia! I’ve been saying the phrase “Adobe Flash” and “Adobe Dreamweaver” in my head all week and it’s freaking me out. Will this end up being a good thing? Maybe, but only maybe.

Third, Skype, an online telephone application, now allows you to have a phone number. They already let you call regular phones from your computer but now Skype users can receive calls like anybody else. The people you’re talking to never even need to know it’s not a regular phone. Plus, you can choose where you want the phone number to be from and get to pick three of them.

Spring is finally kicking in, though perhaps a bit earlier than it should. Yesterday I was talking with Meredith about how one of the reasons it’s hard to get people rilled up about global warming is that in the short term it’s symptoms are seen as “nice” side effects. Being warm earlier in the year and seeing flowers bloom a month before they should tends to make people smile after a winter that threatened to never end. It’s an interesting thing to think about because I’m sure there are other situations where positive short-term effects blind people from longer term vision.

Whether the current temperature is bad news or good I’m happy I’m riding my moped again. Luckily it started right up with no more work than mixing a tank of gas. This year I’ll be continuing my moped repair method of not tinkering with anything until it breaks. Planning for Moped BBQ 11 has begun and I need to get busy with the t-shirts and promo.

Slow down summer, I need to savor this one.

Glockenspiel The Glockenspiel player for Damien Jurado last night at the Rocket Star.



As far as who can tell?

Chicago, IL

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