Images / Styles

Here are some touchpoints for different images and styles we could work with + some awesome You Tube videos for inspiration:

  • Mousetrap

  • Charlie Chaplin – Modern Times factory scene (at 4’50”)

  • OK Go video clip- This Too Shall Pass – Rube Goldberg Machine

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opening credits scene

  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang breakfast

  • Wallace and Gromit

A Rube Goldberg machine or device is a deliberately over-engineered machine that performs a very simple task in a very complex fashion, usually including a chain reaction. The expression is named after American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg.

Examples from You Tube of different Rube Goldbergs:

  • Platform21 – Mythbusters-esque experiment where they tried to make a real breakfast machine

  • Uselessly Complex Machine Assignment

  • NB Let’s NOT make it too much of a Steampunk aesthetic!!

Logistical / Sourcing considerations


  • to create a simple pulley system to raise and lower a theatre curtain


  • the system should appear to be highly complex [as in a Rube Goldberg machine] but in fact be incredibly simple
  • the system needs to work flawlessly for three weeks without breaking or requiring too much maintenance
  • the main mechanism to raise and lower the curtain should be a harness which can be controlled by a donkey or Director!
  • Do we need to collaborate with or consult an engineer/physicist?

–     Fly System

A fly system is a system of ropes, counterweights, pulleys, and other related devices within a theatre that enables a technical crew to quickly move components such as curtains, lights, and scenery on and off stage by moving them vertically between the stage and the large opening above the stage. This is in contrast to the other two types of theatrical component transport systems, scenery wagons and stage lifts, which are only used to move scenery and which do so without utilizing the space above the stage.[1]

The opening above the stage is known by various names including flyspace, flyloft, fly tower, and fly gallery. A component is said to be “flying in” when it is being lowered toward the stage, and “flying out” when it is being raised into the flyspace.

–       Pulley System

–       Rube Goldberg Machine – this is a ONE OFF like dominoes… how to make it look like it is working via a very complex system, but in reality it is a simple function that raises and lowers curtain….

–       How to hang a theatre curtain:

–      Examples of pulleys in everyday life:

How to catalogue process

–       Plans/blueprints for the machine


Art historical references

Most of the art history references I could find are kinetic sculptors:

  • Marcel DuchampBicycle Wheel (1913) is said to be the first kinetic sculpture

One of Tinguely’s best-known work is a self-destroying sculpture titled Homage to New York (1960) at the Museum of Modern Art.

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3 Responses to Machine

  1. Apparently these guys had all the moving parts donated by John Deere tractors. Could be worth a try. Just as a side note, this took 13,000 hours to build.

    “This incredible machine was built as a collaborative effort between the Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory and the Sharon Wick School of Engineering at the University of Iowa . Amazingly, 97% of the machines components came from John Deere Industries and Irrigation Equipment of Bancroft, Iowa . Yes, farm equipment.
    It took the team a combined 13,029 hours of set-up, alignment, calibration, and tuning before filming this video but as you can see, it was well worth the effort.
    It is now on display in the Matthew Gerhard Alumni Hall at the University and is already slated to be donated to the Smithsonian.”

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