Archive for February 9, 2008

Robots, Robots and Robots ! (Part 2)

Posted: February 9, 2008 in Future

Compelling Art from Found Objects

This is the kind of
creativity that can be practiced virtually anywhere, given the tools
and a some personal space for tinkering (minus the annoying calls from
upstairs to take care of the garbage). The artists’ choice of materials
might even come from the same garbage, originally, but soon the parts
are transformed into coolest little mechanisms, a veritable shiny zoo
of "robots and such". As we admire their work, we can’t help but ask
ourselves, if the stuff lying around our own house could be similarly
recycled.


Nemomatic – a wondrous web destination for those in the know

Nemo Gould is a true maestro of the robo-art. There are multiple wonders at his site, for example, his robots creations throwing a party:



while the humans provide entertainment with wicked streamlined "electric upright" bass:



The sheer variety of his creations is astonishing (kinetic, robot, steampunk, retrofuture, recycled, etc) –



From mecha squids:



to the "turtle-slug" (?) –



A very serious looking beat-up "Representative" wants to teach us computer literacy HIS way:



And of course, a whole population of whimsical robots – like this:




Machines… as the object of desire

"A frying pan becomes a fender, a vacuum cleaner becomes a sidecar, and a mailbox becomes a hot rod…"

Michael Ulman
blesses our deep mechanical longings and art sensibilities by creating
extremely sophisticated miniature machines, most of which just cry out
to be used as office desk centerpieces:



"Gone Postal" – wicked (slightly rusted) hot rod:










1909 HD Vintage Racer featuring pedal-driven starter (and loads of steampunk associations) –










"White Noise" – more shiny and unbelievably detailed dream machine:










Michael
says: "When people look at my art I want them to feel the engine
resonating through their body. I want them to hear the throatty roar of
exhaust as they are drawn into my world". It seems his work has just
the quality and sheer inventiveness to make us feel this way.



Lamponi’s Lamps – light up your inner geek

For vintage motorcycle enthusiasts nothing could beat Lamponi’s Lamps creations (from Milano, Italy). Note, ladies, if you ever at a loss what to give at Valentine (other than kisses and hugs) –

The Ultimate 50s Spaceship Lamp:



Courtesy Maurizio Lamponi Leopardi come these gorgeous Vespa accessories:






Christopher Conte, the Dark Master of Miniature Arts

We’ve featured work of Christopher before, but here is a mind-blowing update: the most CARNIVOROUS car we’ve ever laid our eyes on… and feared:






Even deadlier machine is this "Lethal Injection Attack Droid Prototype" – via




Not to mention the scores of fearsome "steam insects" he’s got at his site:



Check out the whole gallery here


Andybots – the miniature robot legion

Andy Hill at ElectroArtworks
makes the typical 50s-style mini-robots, recycling electronic parts,
appliances, scrap metal… you name it. The huge (almost "Sears"-size)
catalogue of his work can be viewed
here.
On his site you can also adopt some of these mechanical cuties and
raise them to become big bad "bots" to enslave mankind… just kidding.
















Clockwork Beetles – simply perfect

Mike Libby at Insect Labs
makes a perfect combination of insects with clock gears – something
about beetles just cries out to be mechanized, if only for the sake of
improving nature. –
via







The beetle collection is here. There are also some more frightening critters –





Temporisoscope: warps time, possibly

This
gorgeous machine oozes out steampunk joy from its every gear and lever;
but we are at loss how it actually works. Supposedly it "temporiscopes"
time, but we can’t be sure:

Photo of the machine by Anne Laure Jacquart – click to enlarge – – via






Russian prisoners also use found objects

Amazingly,
art in Russian prisons seem to reach new heights when officials allowed
the inmates to use objects for art ("found", no doubt, by the same
officials). Here are a few samples, made mostly from… pen-knives:













Coming back to our robots in art theme, here is an interesting cover from a 70s Soviet magazine:





Addition to our "Ugliest Robot" Collection:



Soviet model from the 70s:



Non sequitur –
Robots for Bush:



… against Bush:
(anonymous addition to Banksy’s street art)

This alloy Tachimoka will be available this June by ArtStorm and retail for 14,800 yen
Comes with some LEDs, addon weapons and a cloth to wipe it down.

EX Alloy Tachikoma

Tachikoma in action below.    







           

Robots, Robots and Robots ! (Part 1)

Posted: February 9, 2008 in Future

Cute Little Army of
Cute Little Army of Robots

Bennett Robot Works
are the "Original Art Robot Sculptures" (looking every bit like props
from the "Robots" animated feature). They’re made from "found objects":
wood, metal, and various strange stuff found in the basement and at
garage sales. There is an endless catalog of them on this site. Each
robot is a miniature delight; and together they are as addictive, as an
assortment of mini donuts.

Consumer technology
Consumer technology
Consumer technology
Consumer technology
Consumer technology
Consumer technology
Consumer technology

Each robot takes about a month to build. They are not meant to be a toy.

Some robots mean business

In case you want to be prepared, here is the book "How to survive a robot uprising"; and another site, where the most aggressive robots can battle each other to their heart’s content:

Consumer technology
Consumer technology

while veterans stand around and watch: (source site)

…and robotic mice scatter nearby:
Consumer technology
– witness "Herbie the MouseBot", fully functional miniature robot rodent (source)

If
you read old newspapers, you’ll see that robots were more well-behaved
in the past: this one "STEAM-POWERED DREADNOUGHT CERBER" was even
employed as a police enforcer in Victorian London: (more here)

But as history progressed, they often made the wrong choices:

Consumer technology
Consumer technology
(source)

…to the point that today humans need to put up warning signs like this:

Consumer technology

Know your enemy – read the site devoted to wayward robots, aptly named "Suicide Bots" Don’t miss a link to "sexed robots" site, or picture of "Google Bot".

Probably the Ugliest Robot Ever:

Consumer technology

As a parting shot, these are quite harmless robots from the communist times in Russia:
(they are also quite ugly)
Consumer technology

Bennett Robot Works
are the "Original Art Robot Sculptures" (looking every bit like props
from the "Robots" animated feature). They’re made from "found objects":
wood, metal, and various strange stuff found in the basement and at
garage sales. There is an endless catalog of them on this site. Each
robot is a miniature delight; and together they are as addictive, as an
assortment of mini donuts.

Consumer technology
Consumer technology
Consumer technology
Consumer technology
Consumer technology
Consumer technology
Consumer technology

Each robot takes about a month to build. They are not meant to be a toy.

Some robots mean business

In case you want to be prepared, here is the book "How to survive a robot uprising"; and another site, where the most aggressive robots can battle each other to their heart’s content:

Consumer technology
Consumer technology

while veterans stand around and watch: (source site)

…and robotic mice scatter nearby:
Consumer technology
– witness "Herbie the MouseBot", fully functional miniature robot rodent (source)

If
you read old newspapers, you’ll see that robots were more well-behaved
in the past: this one "STEAM-POWERED DREADNOUGHT CERBER" was even
employed as a police enforcer in Victorian London: (more here)

But as history progressed, they often made the wrong choices:

Consumer technology
Consumer technology
(source)

…to the point that today humans need to put up warning signs like this:

Consumer technology

Know your enemy – read the site devoted to wayward robots, aptly named "Suicide Bots" Don’t miss a link to "sexed robots" site, or picture of "Google Bot".

Probably the Ugliest Robot Ever:

Consumer technology

As a parting shot, these are quite harmless robots from the communist times in Russia:
(they are also quite ugly)
Consumer technology

Some of them are cute, all are ingenious

Paul Loughridge
has a little army of robots that he’s preparing to unleash upon the
world. He may not be the only one (see our previous post), but certainly one of the most talented. "Lockwasher Design" (his website) displays some robots and guns, but most of the recent work is kept in his Flickr account.

With
Paul’s exclusive permission, we give you the wonderfully clunky world
of re-worked vintage junk and gadgets; an art-form that every
red-blooded, geek-minded person can surely appreciate 🙂
Plus, many of these are available for sale – could be a perfect showpiece for your office desk.

Art, ScultureArt, Sculture

Art, ScultureArt, Sculture

Art, ScultureArt, Sculture

Art, ScultureArt, Sculture

See the whole robotic population on Paul’s Flickr set.
Some
photos have notes, detailing the various things from which these
creatures were made: everything from old truck emblems, ice-buckets,
license plate lights, and cannibalized vintage kitchen appliances,
espresso machines and, of course, old typewriters.
Each robot has a name and distinct personality:
(reminiscent of "Robots" animated movie)

Art, Sculture

Art, Sculture

Art, Sculture

Art, Sculture

Art, Sculture

Art, Sculture

Art, Sculture

Art, Sculture

Art, Sculture

Art, Sculture

Dogs:
Art, Sculture

Art, Sculture

This one probably wins the "cuteness" contest:

Art, Sculture

——
It all started with making some rockets and ray-guns…

Art, Sculture

Art, Sculture

Art, Sculture

Art, Sculture
"Junk Ray"

Art, Sculture
Airstream lunchbox armada

Art, Sculture
BR2-D2

As a bonus, there is a great set of vintage toy robot heads.

Art, Sculture

=====
Speaking of rayguns…

Check out this page full of steampunk gun masterpieces… Presented by "Weta Digital", well-known visual effects company.

Art, Sculture

The army of cute little robots grows fast

It’s quite
obvious that we like miniature sculptures of robots. We can’t stop
adoring them, and luckily they come in different styles, made by
various artists with different techniques. Perhaps the better known of
all of them, Lawrence Northey of the Robotart.net
has a humorous collection, with some sculptures awarded the prestigious
Spectrum & Chelsey Awards for the best Three-Dimensional Art. With
artist’s permission here are vintage-styled hilarious characters,
including the adorable "Dave in Space" gallery:

Robots with a slightly Victorian flavour

Recently we were seriously impressed by the portfolio of Stephane Halleux,
who combines a traditional robot/creature themes with his curiously
steampunk sensibilities. With his permission, here are some highlights
of the collection:

Every
little creature in his collection is a masterpiece of the "Victorian
robotics industry", so make sure you see all of them. Some of the
robots look like they might come straight out of Henry Kuttner’s
hilarious "Professor Gallagher" stories

Russian Gas Station Hosts Weird Robots

Perhaps
to battle infamously boring Russian urban landscape, perhaps to draw
more customers, perhaps out of sheer artistic irrepressible urge…
this gas station populated their location with robotic metal sculptures:

Metal animals and insects – good pets for your robot

These creatures are made from scrap metal, and have a very elaborate cybernetic look.
Edouard Martinet‘s gallery is definitely worth checking out: a kind of robotic zoo.

New Miniature Goodness from Lockwasher

If you have not checked out the updates from Paul Loughridge (featured in our previous article),
you should definitely do so. Here is a little taste; it seems he
branches out into other miniature themes (not just robots), all very
ingenious and made from parts, readily available in your kitchen and
your garage.

"Morgan 3 Wheeler passing the city bus":
(we want more of these vintage models!)

Brass Bug Sculpture (made with six wiper arms and a doorbell, among other things):

..not forgetting the robots, of course:

Robotic Potpourri

And of course, we have to include Japanese robots… this time the vintage ones:

Yasutaro Mitsui and his "Steel Humanoid", 1932.
(read more about in this book)

The
last red robot looks like a wet dream of Karl Marx, a proletarian to
unite all other proletarians. This particular model was never built,
but the other one helped the communists to storm the Winter Palace in
Petrograd in 1917:

Yet another model decided to exterminate cars (artwork from Wonder Stories, Feb 1935) –

While the "capitalist pig" robots shamelessly exploited the working class:

"Found" objects + "mixed media" = fanciful art

As a sort of combined follow-up to our "Robotic Art" series (see parts 1, 2 & 3) and recently popular "New ways to play with an old hardware",
we gathered more examples of creative recycling and artistic
experimentation with mixed media and "everyday" objects. Maybe it’ll
inspire you to go tinker in your own kitchen and yard – hoping that
your wife would understand and maybe even share the excitement.

Frog Enhancement Sculptures – Frogs just want to have fun.

Mila Kalnitskaya & Micha Maslennikov
decided that Mother Nature cheated frogs out of the ability to fly, so
they need some outside help for that. Of course, "no animal was hurt
during the art process, etc."


(image credit: mi-mi)

Recycle your computer: new ideas

What,
you still have your old computer hanging around and not playing part in
your home improvement? Here is some ideas for its recycling:

Make some light fixtures:


or a custom camera stand:


(images credit: exler)

Make yourself an office pet:

Improve your accessories:


(images credit: exler)

Your car will thank you:

Keep your bread fresh:

This CD chair can’t be very comfortable…

Take old parts from your printer, and…

Ann Smith from BurrowBurrow
knows exactly what to do with old electronic parts. Instead of
gathering dust, her little creations brighten up the office and don’t
require any reason for existence other than "just because":










(images credit: Ann Smith, used by permission)

Furniture & Design Ideas with Everyday Objects

Lampshade made from the measuring tape:

Reading Light with a "soul":

Salt & Pepper Hug:


(images credit: mydoob.com)

"Still life" photography master Maurice Scheltens has some gool ideas how to use mundane objects:

A walkie-talkie "diva":

Finding
new use for the old turntable? If it still rotates, why not put stuff
on it and make groovy motion-blurred photographs? Here is one with a
garbage bag, and the other one with some kind of an orange crate:


Create some kind of an extinct creature’s skeleton with a bunch of cloth hangers:




(images credit: Maurice Scheltens)

Make wicked-looking spiders from scissors:

(this link got popular, but worth revisiting. Check out the page detailing how to make these menacing creatures)


(image credit: Heartless Machine)

Kosmotroniks – a new breed of robotic art, which moves, dances, jumps and flies around

These restless guys can really move around, looking rather like vintage toys. They are built by the Dutch musician and artist Harry Arling (thanks Martijn Reneman for the tip)


(images credit: Harry Arling)

Tasteful Robotic Designs from France

Eric Claverie
not only creates whimsical robot structures, but he also has
interesting ideas in furniture and interior design. Check out his
endearing "robotic" lamps:





Look one of these cute robots in the eye, and you can be almost certain that it’s smiling:

Nice "Mushroom Lamp":

and a great post-industrial chess set:


So
far most of the examples of "mixed media" art were quite charming. But
not all of them are cute and adorable. Prepare yourself for the….

Post-Apocalyptic Beetles!

Kosma Zrebiec
dreamed up these giant beetles made from the discarded machine parts –
battling each other somewhere in the middle of Polish countryside:

While their friends are taking care of the oceans:

and inconspicuously appear in the urban centers:

To counter all this, we recommend you drink some more beer and make fearsome beer-cap monsters to fend them off:

Kappa

Posted: February 9, 2008 in WEIRD

Reading “Sanpei no Kappa”, a manga from Shigeru Mizuki
I discovered a new Japanese legendary creature. The main character in
this manga has a very good friend that is not human, he is a kappa
that lives in a lake. I asked some Japanese friends and it happens to
be a full mythology around kappas is not only in Shigeru Mizuki’s
manga. Kappas are very popular in Japanese anime, tales and traditional
literature. In the old times they were monstrous creatures but lately
there is a tendency to make them more friendly.

makikappa
This is a Kappa drawn in s.XIX . Image from Wikipedia.

Kappas (河童) are mythological creatures, and as Japanese folklore
says they live in lakes, rivers and humid areas. It seems that there
are some “evidences” that similar creatures could have been seen
sometime and scientifically registered,

Kappas are represented as little humanoids with a frog-turtle-like
extremities and face. Many times its drawn with a turtle caparison in
its back. They use their extremities as fins so they can swim very fast.

But, the most interesting thing about kappas is that they have a
cavity at the top of their heads that is full of water. The legend
stated that kappas are very powerful, and all their energy comes from
the water they have in their heads. If they stay outside the water for
a long time it could happen that the water evaporates or whatever and
then loose their power or even die.

makikappa
Look at the water that is in the top of their heads.

Kappas are usually bad characters in traditional Japanese tales. There are also funny things about them, it seems they can expel big farts,
they like to hide and look women while they are changing clothes or
bathing (Kappa-voyeurism), they like to steal vegetables from Japanese
farmers and the worst is that they kidnap children and women. One of
their favorite food is children, a tasty dish that they can’t resist.
Some other interpretations say that kappas absorb energy from their
victims sucking their blood, and then eating their liver and organs. If
you want to scare kappas, so they don’t come near your home or
vegetable garden, you need to use fire; in many little Japanese
villages they still use fireworks in some festivals in order to
frighten bad spirits/creatures, kappas included among them.


Sanpei using his farting powers to beat the 100m swimming world record (Took the photo from Sanpei no Kappa) a manga that I really recommend but I ignore if it’s translated to English)

makikappa
Ukiyo-e where you can see Kappas fighting.

But they also have a good side. Kappas are very curious, and they
like to spy on humans. They understand and can talk Japanese, they can
even have some relations with humans if they get benefits in exchange.
For example, they usually do favors for humans receiving cucumbers as
payment. For kappas, cucumbers is the only food that is more delicious
than children. In the old times, Japanese families threw cucumber to
the lakes near their homes so kappas won’t come to their homes and take
their kids. Nowadays, their is a type of sushi called kappamaki (kappa roll), that is just rice with a piece of cucumber in the middle.

makikappa
Kappa-maki are rolls of rice with cucumber. The name come from the belief that the favorite kappa’s food is cucumber.

makikappa
A friendly kappa enjoying cucumbers.

makikappa
Kappa with a cucumber

Kappas were sometimes good and some of them became even friends with
humans. They helped them with their rice fields work or teach them
medicine tricks. The legend says that they new lots of techniques that
allowed them to relief backache. Their are even some temples that are
dedicated to kappas, so they would help the villagers with their health.

makikappa
Kappa statue.

makikappa

makikappa
This a “real” kappa in a pseudoscience Japanese magazine.

There are many theories about the origins of kappas. One possibility
is that the myth appeared because of the old Japanese tradition that
consisted in introducing fetus that were born dead in miniature boats
and throw them to rivers. About the name, it seems that it comes from
the Spanish/Portuguese word “capa” that means “cape, cloak or
caparison”. As we said before Kappas usually wear a caparison to cover
their backs.

makikappa
Sanpei no kappa, the anime.

The monster at the film Ring is inspired by the Kappa legend. In
many games there are kappas. For example in Final Fantasy VI, Guild
Wars or even at Super Marios where “Koopas” are very similar to kappas,
even the name is similar! If you remember Super Mario World, in the
first island of the game there is a mountain called “kappa” that has a
lake on the top that remembers a lot a kappa’s head.

makikappa

makikappa
It seems a kappa’s head. It’s the kappa mountain at Super Mario World.

makikappa

Super Mario Koopas are based on Kappas.
More about Kappas in popular culture at Wikipedia.

World’s Most Curious Ephemera

Posted: February 9, 2008 in WEIRD

Pieces of Paper that Intrigue & Inspire

It’s hard to
put a value on certain printed artifacts of our culture, the flotsam
and jetsam that we encounter every day and sometimes even hate with a
passion (like tickets, receipts, statements, etc).


For all we
know, what’s considered passe and banal today can achieve highest
collectible value tomorrow. It’s hard to gauge the sensibilities, or
even trends, of our successors. They might disregard old books and
postcards, but go squirrely nuts about old grocery receipts, or product
bar codes (perhaps containing secret code plans for fledging worldwide
revolution by some sinister AI…)


Japanese Electronics Catalog, 1971:



We
like to flip through the pages of vintage ephemera and fancy
scrapbooking, possibly measuring how much we’ve changed ourselves and
how much our own world grew different from that of our ancestors. For
this very reason, I believe, the sites and collection that preserve
such seemingly little-valued printed material deserve respect – and may
score big when the tide of society and culture changes.


Miniature television set, 1940 (?)




The World of Old Paper

Marty Weil from an excellent blog Ephemera explores the "world of old paper" and regularly comes up with items worth a second look.
Here are a few, admitted into his "hit parade" of World’s Coolest Ephemera:

1921 Multiple Choice Correspondence Card

The
ladies (or "dazed" guys) who found it hard to correspond with their
love interests in the midst of the intense vacation, could use this
handy tool to make up their mind – if they feel "OKEH", or not.

(click to enlarge)



1950s Parisian strip club flyer

This flyer also has another side, which, "if shown in full glory, might be too salacious for ephemera regulars."



World War II hand-held fan (with the Pledge of Allegiance)

For a wartime lady, a fold-out fan to disperse the gun smoke and achieve some elegance – all the torpedoes be damned.



Porno Movie Waiver from 1969
(click to enlarge)

You
could not enter the theater to see some weird "Infrasexum" movie, if
you did not sign this form (which asks for your address, too!) –




If
you read the fine print, this flyer also has the audacity to declare
that by signing it you throw your full support to the adult industry,
their production and distribution of such films in your community – a
moral waiver, as well as a political one – all for a single pen stroke
and a price of one admission.



One Good Turn Deserves Another

From the collection of Malcolm Warrington comes this culinary reversal of roles:

Mice preparing to eat a cat:



Turkeys preparing to roast a chef:



We heartily recommend Ephemera
as a one-stop destination for all things printed and vintage, and will
continue to feature some of the coolest stuff appearing there. Marty
Weil says: "I’m on a mission to explore the world of old paper, but
truly, I am are exploring the world
through old paper. Meaning,
I’m on a journey to both showcase interesting ephemera and the small
histories suggested by these remarkable and wonderful pieces of raw,
unedited history, and at the same time, bringing my own personal
experiences to bear on the topic at hand".



The World’s Rarest Signature

According to Luxist.com this honor goes to the autograph of William Shakespeare:



Every occasion of this signature, if found, will go for a cool $3 million.


Barf Bags (Air Sickness Bags) Collection

Steve Silberberg has been collecting barf bags for more than 25 years (see interview with him at Ephemera), and has some politically correct/incorrect items –



Hilary
Clinton and George W. Bush barf bags present a hard choice for those
politically indecisive in a moment of barfing weakness.



Medicine Atlas not for the faint of heart

Courtesy
of National Library of Medicine comes this freaky, but strangely
fascinating Medicine Atlas from Germany in the early 17th century:






Human anatomy too disturbing for you?
Feast your eyes on Basilius (Basil) Besler’s (1561–1629) Wunderkammern (Cabinet of Curiosities) – read more here
(click to enlarge)





You can see McDonalds’ hamburger in the middle of this page:






Gorgeous French Postcards from "La Belle Epoch":

Especially good find for the coming Valentine, the Tallulah website offers extensive collection of French vintage art and photos, many of "Love & Romance" variety (some might be nsfw):



Winged ladies –



Among the especially rare postcards are the so-called "satirical metamorphic" images:
Portraits of famous political figures made up of nude women and romancing couples!



Read an interview with Tallulah’s web master here


Other amazing printed bits & pieces

UFO Turkmenistan stamp (?!)




Ivy Pete & his Limbo-maniacs record sleeve cover:




Some of the old pulp art was simply beyond thrilling:








Hmmm…. vintage ad for Springmaid Fabrics. Kill two birds with one stone:



Early Vegas postcards site is a treasure-trove of sorts:



Early Detroit:




and Early Disneyland (see here)









Vintage motels cards collection :




Computer: "How it Works" – book from 1971 on-line here
(check out the SMALL digital computer, designed for a businessman)



However, computer-related "ephemera" deserves its own article.

In conclusion, I am going to give you a link to Flickr Vintage Postcard Pool – one can spend days there…