Experience the ‘Pataphysical Slot Machine at the Mill Valley Library this October

Join us for the world premiere of the 'Pataphysical Slot Machine on October 2nd at the Mill Valley Library, as shown in this artist rendering.

Join us for the world premiere of the ‘Pataphysical Slot Machine on October 2nd at the Mill Valley Library.

We’re happy to announce that our ‘Pataphysical Slot Machine will be unveiled at the Mill Valley Library on October 2, 2015, for our first-ever public presentation and a month-long exhibit.

If you live in the Bay Area, this is a unique opportunity to experience this fun and educational combination of art and technology — as well as learn how to create your own interactive art.

We invite you to save the dates below — and subscribe to our mailing list, to be alerted when online registration opens in mid-September (we expect these events to fill up quickly).

Introducing the ‘Pataphysical Slot Machine – Friday, October 2, 7pm
Visionaries from Apple, Burning Man, ILM, the Whole Earth Catalog and the like will unveil the ‘Pataphysical Slot Machine, our poetic oracle, for the first time ever. This special presentation will include a project history, a demonstration, artists’ stories and a bit of theater.

‘Pataphysics and the Real Alfred Jarry – Thursday, October 15, 7pm
A lecture and group discussion about french poet Alfred Jarry, the founder of ‘Pataphysics: his art movement inspired surrealism and dadaism and is also known as the “science of imaginary solutions”.

Try out the Slot Machine – Open hours on Saturdays and Sundays, 1-5pm
Our art exhibit will be open every weekend in October: Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5pm, in the library’s downstairs conference room. Our team will be on hand to demo the slot machine, share what we’ve learned and show you how to build your own interactive art projects.

These free events will all take place at the Mill Valley Public Library:
375 Throckmorton Ave.
Mill Valley CA 94941
415-389-4292 ext. 3
Online registration to these events will start in September, on their site:

The ‘Pataphysical Slot Machine is a collaborative art project made possible by the maker movement — and inspired by ‘Pataphysics and many other cultural influences. Our community-created poetic oracle invites you to face mysterious ‘cabinets of curiosity,’ ask about your future and receive whimsical words of wisdom. Open one of twenty wonderboxes for more inspiration: each box sparkles with lights, plays sounds, or spins surreal objects.

This unique art project was created by ‘Pataphysical Studios, a collective of artists, engineers, teachers and students based in Mill Valley. Our group includes veterans from a wide range of organizations: Apple Computer, Bill Graham Presents, Black Rock Arts, California College of the Arts, Fandor, Industrial Light and Magic, Jim Henson Company, Rex Foundation, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Whole Earth Catalog, Wikimedia Foundation and Wired Magazine.

For project updates, we invite you to subscribe to our mailing list — and follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Learn more at pataphysics.us.

We hope to see you in October!

Fabrice Florin (a.k.a. Dr. Fabio)
Howard Rheingold (a.k.a. Dr. Rindbrain)
Freddy Hahne (a.k.a. Dr. Really)
and the ‘Pataphysical Studios crew

The Pataphysical Slot Machine

Behold The Pataphysical Slot Machine, our community-created poetic oracle.

This unique art exhibit engages people of all ages to inquire about their future and act on it. It encourages creative exploration by combining visual arts and new technology, the ‘maker spirit’ and ‘combinatorial poetics’.

Here’s a short video of the Pataphysical Slot Machine in action.

Visitors are invited to sit on the Pataphysical throne, facing three mysterious cabinets of curiosity. You can ask Ubu, our patron saint, for “instructions from the future”: he shares surreal and whimsical words of advice (e.g.: “Embrace purple sky”), which are printed on your receipt — and spoken with a thick french accent. .

For more inspiration, guests can then open one of 20 “wonderboxes”. Each box contains a different art scene: a singing flower, an alien invader, a red devil, a happy buddha or a native shaman, for example. Some of them sparkle with lights, some speak to you, others are animated robots — and an ‘olfactory clock’ tells the time with scents of cinnamon buns or blueberry pie. 

These slides show what the art exhibit looks like. To see the many ways in which people interact with the Pataphysical Slot Machine, check our photo stream on Flickr.

The art is inspired by many world cultures, the steam-punk movement — and by Alfred Jarry, founder of ‘Pataphysics, the “science of imaginary solutions.” The technology is based on Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms, networked together — and soon to be connected to the Internet. See our interactive specs.

We are a team of artists, technologists and educators based in Mill Valley, California. Our members include Fabrice Florin (@fabriceflorin), Howard Rheingold (@hrheingold), Freddy Hahne (@arewereally), Stephanie LeveneDonald DayTim Pozar, Janey Fritsche, Mark Petrakis, Jean Bolte and many other friends, family and neighbors. Meet our crew in this ‘day in the life’ video.

We work together as a ‘peer learning network’: we teach each other what we know, across all levels of expertise. To share what we’ve learned, we maintain an extensive online documentation, and sometimes host online hangouts, to show you how to build your own interactive art — like this ‘geekout’ on motors and Arduino, held by video conference last fall.

We are preparing our first public exhibits of the Pataphysical Slot Machine later this year, in two Bay Area locations where visitors will be able to interact with Ubu and friends. Even if you can’t visit in person, we invite you to create your own interactive art, wherever you are.

Collaborative art is a wonderful thing. Join the movement and start a Pataphysical group in your neighborhood. And remember to have fun with it: ‘pataphysics is the art of not taking yourself too seriously’ :)

Fire in the hole!

Video, photos and narration by Fabrice Florin. Recorded at the Rheingold Room in Mill Valley, California, in February 2014. Music by Erik Satie and others.

A ‘Pataphysical Poem


Docteur Canard, our youngest pataphysicist, is now a regular contributor to our art club, where she is creating an interactive skull with X-ray vision. As a gift for for Docteur Fabio’s 60th birthday, she wrote this poem about why she keeps coming back. We’re so glad she’s part of our society, and thank her for inspiring us with her fresh perspective on our madcap adventure.


The Pataphysical Slot Machine

As you enter, gods and demons stare down at you.

Pataphysicists are the makers of dreams, and the future rests in their hands.

Golden question marks show the end of the unknown question.

Purple coats flash past.

The  Pataphysical Slot Machine is a place of art, laughter and imagination.

Singing flowers, the Devil, a skull with flashing eyes, the hand with the All Seeing Eye.

Always in the process, never done.

Pearl and Lulu.

Two yipping, barking explosions of joy and energy, both worth twice as much as 1,000 pearls.


You can be anything you want to be, do anything you want to do, nothing is impossible here.

What do you want to know? UBU can see your future, and he will tell you.

Hidden away, a small miracle in the vast and troubled earth, a place of gods.

This is Really and Truly the most Fabulous place in the world, where Figurines come alive and Canards call from every corner. A place filled with Pizzazz, where the Day never ends, and Tout d’ Suite the Rind of your Brain is being Flashed with ideas you once thought impossible.

The science and art of imaginary solutions.


Written for Dr. Fabio by Dr. Canard


Why, thank you kindly, Dr. Canard! We too enjoy our time together in this ‘place of gods’. We look forward to many more creative explorations with you :)