Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ramp-walkers get a lift from an elevator machine

You know we love mechanical ramp-walkers here The Automata / Automaton Blog. Here's something we haven't seen: a system to raise the walkers back to the top of the ramp!

When asked to do a section of a chain reaction sculpture with Arthur Ganson, artist Hayes Raffle was faced with a challenge. The video above shows the solution.

The artist explains the design process:

I had been working on these little quirky walkers that have two feet and erratically make their way down a hill and I immediately thought to use them. My sculptures are generally cyclic but a chain reaction requires something linear, so it was a trick. I holed myself up in my studio for a couple weeks making all sorts of useless cyclical machines, and somehow thought to have the walkers all make their way into a big pot of soup like lemmings or soilent green.

I made an elevator that picked them up in sequence and set them walking on the top of the hill, and the machine ended up looking like a big fertility goddess ... she actually had a natural grace in the S-shaped movement she used to lift them to the top of the hill! The walkers are erratic and don't always make it to the bottom smoothly, but I did manage to design a couple that could avoid the edges of the hill, so that was an exciting innovation.

In the end, the crowd got very excited and cheered for all of my walkers' successes. When the fourth one dropped in the soup, the pot fell on a burner that ignited beneath it and triggered the next machine in the show.

Learn more about the inventions and designs of the amazing Hayes Raffle on his web site.

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