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04 April 2007

Tim Hunkin'sString & Drum Fax Machine

Click if you so desire.

I saw Tim Hunkin and his associate do this, and it worked. My guess is you can do this yourself for about $30. I think it would be a great Science Project for elementary school, junior high, high school, undergraduate university, graduate school, postgraduate studies, or for amateur self-amusement. Anyway, this is the principle on which the Fax Machine operates. It's been some time, but I'm pretty sure I got the essentials down right. It's the most amazing thing I ever saw on TV.

For more fun than people should be allowed to have with their trousers on, rent or buy and watch "The Secret Life of Machines." The theme song is a Ska cover of Dave Brubeck's jazz classic "Take 5," in 5/4 time.

My first encounter with Tim Hunkin's work was a cheesy tourist trap in Covent Garden called the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre. Well, call me a rube from the boondocks, but gawrsh I just gawked for hours, and dropped 10 Pounds of coins in the amazing little wooden machines to make them dance over and over again. My favorites were "The Last Dodo" and "Anubis in Montmartre." (The jackal-headed god Anubis, in a fancy Italian suit, stirring a demitasse of coffee at a little sidewalk cafe.)

As a kid Tim Hunkin got a summer job repairing the electromechanical coin-operated machines, like the Gypsy Fortune Teller, at an old-fashioned English seaside resort. As he learned their innermost secrets, he became very fond of these machines and wanted to explore their artistic possibilities by creating his own wooden coin-operated automata.

Why isn't it Sir Tim Hunkin by now?

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