Longtime tinkering collaborator and artist-in-residence Tim Hunkin spent the past two weeks with us at the museum and as usual, his projects inspired more possibilities for tinkering. One of the ideas that shared was an exploration of peepshows made with shoe boxes, simple circuits, and other common materials. As you may know, Tim runs two arcades in the UK with delightful machines which use some of the same elements of this older form of entertainment including perspective, electronics, and story-telling.
The peepshow works with a paper Godzilla that appears to get bigger and bigger until it bites the nose of the unsuspecting viewer. Tim produced realistic growling sound effects which really added to the experience.
As an experiment, we decided to try out constructing peepshows with the project explainers in one of our weekly trainings. Tim gave a quick introduction to the idea and then the group began to search through the materials bins for inspiration. Some of the groups went for a scary theme including adding glowing red eyes and ferocious teeth to this otherwise unassuming baby bunny.
Others, like Ryan and Micheala, went full on for the disco theme, covering the inside of their box with mylar and attaching a spinning psychedelic disk to the back of the box. Julian sketched out this terrifying likeness of Donald Trump slicing a cucumber which I can only assume will be used for some unsettling effect in the finished peep-show.
While there were wildly different themes around the room, each group got the chance to experiment with hooking up lights and motors to batteries and switches to create customized circuits. Tim shared that this was the same way that he originally learned about electronics, because it was necessary as part of building something personally meaningful for him. We only were able to work for a little more than an hour, which turned out to be too little time to complete the scenes. We went around the room and shared our progress, the questions we had, and ideas for next time. This week we hope to finish the creations and talk about the ways that this idea could be facilitated in the Tinkering Studio workshop. I think there's a ways to go before we're ready to try with visitors, but there's an obvious connection to automata, paper circuits, and other programming activities that we've been exploring. Whether it turns into a facilitated activity or not, it's always fun to get to see how someone like Tim works and use their inspiration and techniques to create our own projects. I'll share the final versions after the next workshop.