Universal Tea Machine

I have been helping my friends at Westby Jones and Smout Allen to design and fabricate the Universal Tea Machine in time for the London Olympics.

Universal Tea Machine. Video © copyright Smouth Allen.

Installed in Victoria Park for the duration of the Olympics, the Universal Tea Machine is a computer that relies on teamwork and calculation to produce the perfect cup of tea. The Heath-Robinson-esque machine enables the audience to make their ‘perfect’ cup of tea by solving binary calculation maths problems. If their calculation is too high, they might get too many teabags; not high enough, and they may not get a teabag at all.

I designed and fabricated the mechanisms and electronics that enable tea to get made: the ‘kitchen’ unit. Here’s a short video showing the mechanisms in action:

The Universal Tea Machine is a collaboration based at the Bartlett School of Architecture between Smout Allen and You+Pea with Iain Borden. The UTM is fabricated by Westby and Jones and Ollie Palmer. It was commissioned by the Mayor of London for the Cultural Olympiad.

Photos

The Universal Tea Machine

Press

Please note: originally posted on the Smout Allen site). All images © copyright Smout Allen / You & Pea

FutureEverything in not-quite-3D

I know not everyone can make it to Manchester for FutureEverything, so took a couple of panoramic photosynths so that everyone can join in the fun. The exhibition is in the world’s first railway warehouse, so it’s a nice contrast between the peak of 1830’s physical technology and 2012’s (mostly) virtual!

First up is the elevator that takes people from the ground floor to the exhibition:

It’s been designed by Jörn Röder and Jonathan Pimay. Called fbFaces, it is the result of a script that trawled the web for public photos of people from and related to Manchester. There’s something of a Philip K Dick novel/Keiichi Matsuda experience in being surrounded by so many little avatars…

Secondly, here’s my Ant Ballet installation:

It has four screens showing documentary footage and theory about Ant Ballet, and a floating circular screen in the middle of the space with a robotic arm and simulation of ant trail following and disruption.

On the other side of the room is Brendan Oliver and Kasia Molga‘s The…. Based around David Bohm‘s philosophy that no human thought can be original, but rather a result of other thoughts in the world, it presents visitors with poetic (and non-Justin Bieber-related) Twitter feeds that are sent from one viewers’ shadow to another.

Unfortunately I didn’t have exhibition features numerous other works by artists such as Lawrence Epps, Jeremy Hutchison, Daniel Jones + James Bulley and more. It is open from the 18th May – 10th June at the Museum of Science and Industry

RIP MCA

Sad to hear about the passing of Adam Yaunch a couple of days ago. The Beastie Boys are the soundtrack to much of machine-building – here’s a video from the construction of the Ant Ballet machine last year:

RIP MCA.

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Posted: 2012-04-29

Categories: Blog

Ant Ballet Photosynth

For anyone who hasn’t had a chance to see my Ant Ballet installation currently in ZSL London Zoo, here are a couple of Photosynths that enable you to navigate the area!

The BUGS house

The installation is aptly in the BUGS house – celebrating the diversity of invertebrate life. The building itself is modelled after a termite nest, using a passive ventilation system to regulate the interior temperature and airflow.

The installation

The installation is in near to the leafcutter ants, locusts, and cockroaches, in an ‘exclusion zone’ tent.

The installation is going to be there until the 11th of May, so head on down to the zoo if you want to find out more!

An Architectural Time Machine by Heechan Park

I helped my good friend Heechan Park shoot a couple of short videos about the amazing machines he built at the Bartlett last year.

Inspired by JG Ballard’s The Cloud Sculptures of Choral D, they fire vortices of smoke, infused with scents, distances of up to 20m. Viewers experience an ephemeral sensation – bewildering bursts of smell defining their interaction with a space.

Video by Ollie Palmer and Heechan Park

Here’s the first testing of the machines near Old Street. There’s a lovely contrast between the rugged, heavy-duty appearance of the machines and the poetically delicate smoke vortex they create.

Video by Heechan Park, with footage by Ollie Palmer

For more information, head to www.heecpark.com

Update

This project has been receiving a fair bit of press recently. Check out We Make Money Not Art‘s article here!

Dorkbot 79

I’ll be talking about ants, machines and ballet at dorkbot 79 next week.

When

19:00-21:00, 28 March 2012

Where

MAT Lab, Room G2 Engineering Building, Queen Mary, University of London, 327 Mile End Road, London E1 4NS
Nearest tube: Stepney Green / Mile End
Walk up or down Mile End Road until you’re between Bancroft Road and The Queen’s Building. There’s a glass storefront with orange benches and people milling about looking studious. That’s the entrance. There should be a ‘dorkbot’ sign there.

Lineup

See you there!

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