Introduction to Mechanisms for Artists
with Jason Torchinsky
Date & Time
January 17, 2009, 12pm–4pm
January 18, 2009, 12pm–4pm
Machine Project
$160 for members
$185 for non-members

Instructor: Jason Torchinsky

Please join us for an introduction to the wide world of motors and mechanical systems for use in kinetic and robotic artworks.

You know those waking dreams you have about how soon you’re going to crawl into the cockpit of a 24-foot robotic exoskeleton and make them all pay for how they treated you? You know how when you’re awakened or startled from your violent reverie by the blaring horn of the car behind you, and you look down at your soft, pliant, new-media hands and despair that you’ll never have the skills needed to create your massive revenge machine? That’s what we’re going to solve.

See, it’s a three-step process: Step three is you climbing into your gigantic robotic exoskeleton. Step two is probably at least one other successful project or at least skimming a couple of relevant books. Step one is this class, Introduction to Mechanisms.

This two-day class is all about how lifeless, inert lumps of metal and plastic can be cajoled into motion. It’s about crap doing crap, and how. We’ll cover the real fundamentals of machines, what prime movers and motors are, how they work, how you can take that power and put it to work for you. We’ll explore how big machines are really big colonies of interworking mechanisms, and we’ll look at the ways they connect and interact and live. We’ll see why it can all be so damn hard and frustrating, and also so much fun. By the end, you’ll be amazed anyone ever built a working car, but at least you’ll be a step closer to building moving, lurching things of your own.

Materials: General tools (screwdriver, wrench, pliers), anything with a motor you want to extract, safety glasses, drawing materials, ruler, an iron will.

Day 1: The basics. We talk about the fundamental simple machines, how they begat more complicated ones. The importance of structure, what motors are, what kinds there are (electrical, combustion, etc) and how they work, how to get their power to do things, and how to tear things apart to get to their motors, and how to test them. And then drawing. Planning. Designing something simple but fun to build tomorrow.

Day 2: It’s Tomorrow. We’re going to look at the drawings, and try and pick some things to build. Ideally, we’ll have at least two mechanized things that move or move something. Then we can race them or fight them or let them destroy themselves. It’ll be a blast, as long as no one expects anything to, you know, really work.