Mekanikos vs. The Minotaur Automaton by Dug North
Watch as The Mighty Mekanikos tests his strength against the raging Minotaur! This epic battle draws the crowds and their money in every time, but little do spectators know that the act is not what it claims to be.
Many automata move in a stiff and predictable way. I wanted to create a piece with a somewhat more organic motion. This piece was built up gradually around the monster figure. I started by giving the minotaur a ball-and-socket joint at his pelvis. I made him thrash about by tugging the chains strapped to his wrists with a mechanism below the figure. To my surprise, I found that a loose pivot under one foot would cause the monster to step forward. I am always on the lookout for happy accidents such as this. I hinged the monster’s jaw so that as it leans back his mouth flies open.
With the monster done, I needed a context for all of this thrashing and stomping. I could envision the monster pulling against a strongman figure, but how could I make the two figures seem connected? The answer: connect them! I found a length of braided cord with a hollow center and ran a piece of music wire down the middle. This wire connects the minotaur to the strongman, who is jointed something like a marionette. To the viewer, it seems like the strongman is tugging against the monster. In reality, the minotaur is driving all of the strongman’s motions. The motion transferred through the wire causes the strongman to quiver and hesitate in subtle ways. I never could have achieved these motions by trying to move the strongman directly.
The scene inside the box adds another level (literally and figuratively) to the piece. The idea is that the sideshow is a hoax designed to draw in the crowds and their money. The minotaur is a fake, driven by a hidden worker who is turning a crank below the stage. Beside him, another worker assembles a backup minotaur.
Finally, I added all of the little elements that set the scene -- the backdrop, banners, flooring, tools, crate, barbells, stool, barrel, bucket, poster, ashtray, and beer bottles. A card game with three players was clearly in progress just before the show.
Creating this automaton was a long and difficult process. I am very happy with the finished piece.
Learn more about the Mekanikos vs. The Minotaur Automaton
Quarterly.co is launching a brand new Maker Box subscription. This new Maker box features DIY kits and hands-on projects perfect for makers of all ages. You’ll receive kits to build your own gadgets, electronics, quirky tools, and more. Each quarter will feature a new curator, new ideas and new projects. The first curator is Boing […]
Brainiac75 made a pair of wooden tools that he uses to separate and stack large neodymium magnet discs. I’ve pinched my fingers quite a few times with tiny neodymium magnet discs and have learned to respect them. These big ones are very dangerous. You could easily lose a finger if these magnets were to smack […]
I don’t think I’ll make string from a plastic bottle, but I enjoyed watching how this guy made his PET bottle-cutting tool with some screws, washers, and a pencil sharpener blade.
We’d all love a 75-inch TV screen on which to view our favorite shows. But not all of us can drop the cash needed to get one of those broadcasting beauties (or even have the space needed to house them).Thankfully, there’s an alternative. With the SainSonic Mini LED Portable Projector (only $59.99 in the Boing Boing Store), you can project a picture […]
If you want to add some real firepower to your programming repertoire, learn Java–one of the most adaptable, widely-used programming platforms around. You can easily do that with this Ultimate Java bundle, now just $69 in the Boing Boing Store.Across 14 lectures and 117 hours of content, the educators at online academy eduCBA will walk you through […]
Every company wants to harness the power of social media, but few understand how to make that happen. Be one of those select few with this Social Media Marketing Course & Certification package, now just $29 in the Boing Boing Store.Over 12 modules of course material, you’ll learn what it takes to increase a brand’s […]