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
Back in 2004, when designer David Albertson and I were creating a prototype for the magazine that would become MAKE, one the things we came up with was an item called 1+2+3. It was a one-pager with instructions for making a simple project in three steps. We ended up incorporating 1+2+3s into every issue of […]
At 1pm PT today (in 5 minutes!) I’ll be on a Skillshare Ask Me Anything. As the title suggests, you can ask me anything, but I’ll primarily be talking about Arduino and DIY tools and techniques for makers.
When Make: Electronics was published about five years ago, it was widely hailed as the greatest book about learning electronics ever written. With beautiful photos, easy-to-read schematics, clear, jargon-free text, and dozens and dozens of fun and educational projects, author/illustrator Charles Platt made a book that has ended up in every makerspace and library I’ve […]
Today only in the Boing Boing Store we are offering an extra 15% off of the below VPN deals just use coupon code: VPN15 at checkout. proXPN VPN: Premium Lifetime Subscription Surf the web with ultimate peace of mind – both at home and on the road – over proXPN’s fully-encrypted, lightning-fast servers. Your lifetime premium subscription […]
These knitted gloves are here to save the day (and your hands) with an ultra-comfy, double-layer that will allow you to stay warm and use your phone. Now you can take photos on the fly, text, Tinder, and more without letting freezing temperatures get in your way. Plus they work with all touchscreens, so no […]
Store more on your Mac with this microSD memory card adapter.