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The Magic and Terror of Automata

When I was in San Francisco I had a little woodshop in the garage and a seemingly endless supply of salvaged wood thanks to the constant restoration work going on with the Victorians in the area. Over the years I had become particularly fascinated with The Musée Mécanique, a collection of antique penny arcade machines and automata from the turn of the century. I began constructing my own crude boxes using found materials, puppets constructed from foam and latex and some advice from this excellent book. The boxes made their debut at two gallery openings, and many actually sold. Hopefully they are all still working…I…hope.

This couple who had heard about my boxes stopped by my apartment to possibly buy one. They said they wanted it for their kid’s room! I replied, “I don’t think these would be very appropriate.” They took one look, cringed and left. Surprise.

While I haven’t had the time to do much in the woodshop (which now languishes in my basement) I have been hashing out ideas for possible future ones.


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