Tag Archives: maker art

The ‘Pataphysical Time Machine

We are creating a Time Machine at ‘Pataphysical Studios, our art collective in Mill Valley, where surrealism meets the maker culture.

The ‘Pataphysical Time Machine invites you to travel through time and meet characters from the past, present and future. We hope to engage our guests in a fun interactive experience that combines art, multimedia, theater and technology.

This 3D fly through video illustrates the experience we are creating. We invite our guests to go through a short interactive ritual during their visit: walk around the exhibit, step into our magic portal, pick a time to visit, travel to that time, meet its characters and return back to the present.

Through this experience, we hope to enchant guests of all ages and cultures. We typically host time travel expeditions with small groups of up to six people at a time, lasting between 10 and 20 minutes. To insure we don’t disrupt the delicate fabric of time, we ask that our guests do not exit the machine during our time travel journeys. We usually return our guests safely back to the time they came in from. Time travel is not for the faint of heart! 🙂

Press the buttons on this time travel dashboard to jump to different periods, which are shown on the illuminated screen above. 


Our Time Machine exhibit is inspired by steampunk and art movements from the early 20th century: Pataphysics, dada and surrealism.

Here are some of the artifacts we’re now building for our exhibit:

  • a mysterious, glimmering time capsule and cockpit
  • a violin-shaped dashboard with time travel buttons
  • an illuminated main screen to view scenes from distant times
  • animated figures of Anubis and the Creature from the Future Lagoon
  • frescoes of hieroglyphic characters from across the ages
  • crazy clocks spinning at random and singing about time
  • collages of time travel images and stories against the walls
  • mechanical iris portholes revealing mysterious apparitions

… and many more time travel artifacts!

To see our work in progress, view photos below, and our photo album for the Time Machine. To learn about other artifacts, visit our exhibit design spec for the physical structures. To learn more about the interactive experience, read our time travel design spec.

If you liked our ‘Pataphysical Slot Machine, we think this new art exhibit will transport you even further. Fire in the hole!

Animated figures of the ancient god Anubis and the Creature from the Future Lagoon are here to guide your journey through time.

To make our art come to life, we are now developing new media and technologies that will animate the exhibit with animated characters, lights, sounds, motion and videos of the different times you will travel to.


Our growing video library already includes dozens of short clips for different time periods, to create the illusion of time travel.

This Belle Époque video takes you back in time to Paris at the start of the 20th century, when the arts and sciences flourished, along with a “joie de vivre” (joy of living) that is music to our ears.

This short video is just one of the scenes you can visit with the Time Machine, and its authenticity is confirmed by copious historical footage from a variety of sources. Other scenes in our prototype  include videos of the Big Bang, Dinosaurs, Ancient Egypt, the French Revolution, A Trip to the Moon, Dada Cafe Voltaire, Trumpocalypse — and many more. Here are some of the other time scenes we‘re considering for the next version.

Meanwhile, our sounds library now includes many time travel soundtracks, as well as musical quotes about time (e.g. “Time!” by the Chambers Brothers, “Crying Time” by Ray Charles, etc.).

To learn about our multimedia plans, visit this media overview.


We will combine many different digital technologies to support the Time Machine experience: Arduino and Raspberry Pi for artifact devices, NodeRed for the central host, MQTT for the messaging protocol, EasyESP firmware and other tech.

Learn more in this infrastructure document, programming guide and technology overview.

Meet the team

About a dozen creators are building the Time Machine together. We’re artists, engineers, makers, performers, poets, organizers and multimedia innovators. Over the years, we have grown into a world-class troupe of interactive artists, who like to make things together and learn from each other. Most of us are members of Pataphysical Studios and listed in this community page

We work in small creative teams to design and build the different parts of the Time Machine, combining interactive art with lights, sounds, motion, and videos of different times. Besides Pataphysical Studios, some of our fabrication work takes place at at Tam Makers, our community makerspace in Mill Valley, where we use a wide range of tools, from laser cutters to CNC routers and milling equipment.

Learn more on our planning page and project lists.

Join us

This is the most complex art project that our team has taken on, and we could use more help. We are now recruiting a few more creators to contribute to our community project, so we can complete it together in coming years.

If you would like to help build this interactive art experience with us, email us at info@pataphysics.us. We’re particularly interested in collaborators who you live in the Bay Area and can join our weekly work sessions in Mill Valley on Saturday afternoons. But if you live outside the Bay Area, we can also collaborate on a variety of tech and media projects. Let’s talk!

It’s a true pleasure to help new teams come together to design and build the various parts of our Time Machine. That’s what collective art is about. We can’t wait to see what it will look like in a year!

For more project updates, we invite you to subscribe to our mailing list — and/or follow us on Facebook. Learn more at pataphysics.us. We hope to see you soon, online or in person.

Vive la ‘pataphysique!

Fabrice Florin (a.k.a. Dr. Fabio)

On behalf of Pataphysical Studios



To see more photos of our work in progress, visit our photo album for the Time Machine.

Join our upcoming Pataphysical events

Bay Area friends: we’re hosting several Pataphysical events that might interest you, if you’re in town. Hope to see you there!



Experience the Pataphysical Slot Machine – May 28

Come see our surreal art exhibit in Mill Valley at a special showing for friends and family in Mill Valley on Saturday, May 28th, from 1pm to 5pm.

The ’Pataphysical Slot Machine is a fun and educational art experience: you’ll get to ask our poetic oracle for instructions from the future — and open our many magical wonderboxes.

And you’ll learn more about ‘Pataphysics, the “science of imaginary solutions” that inspired dada and surrealism. You’re welcome to bring friends and family — including children ages 6 or older.

RSVP here for directions to this exhibit.


Tam Makers Meetup  – June 8

Members of Pataphysical Studios are starting a new makerspace in Mill Valley called Tam Makers, to build cool things with our local community and learn from each other.

If you are interested in working with us or taking our adult maker classes in Marin, join our welcome meeting at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, on Wednesday, June 8th, 6 to 9pm.

You’ll meet our community, see our makerspace, hear about our maker classes for adults and teens, and discuss next steps for this community initiative. Learn more here about Tam Makers.

Sign up here for this free event.


Pataphysical Talk – June 15

Join us for a special presentation about Pataphysical Studios at UC Berkeley on Wednesday, Jun. 15th, 2016, at 7pm. This talk will be given by senior ‘pataphysician Fabrice Florin (a.k.a. Dr. Fabio) at the Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) meeting.

In this talk, Fabrice will discuss how Pataphysical Studios came about, what we discovered together, and how our art project has grown into a “peer learning network”. He will also share findings from his maker art classes, which help students create their own interactive art.

Learn more here about this free presentation.


The Pataphysics of Dada – November 3-12

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Dada movement, we are hosting a special exhibit of the Pataphysical Slot Machine during the Dada World Fair, from November 3rd to 12th.

The exhibit will run for ten days at the Canessa Gallery in North Beach, San Francisco. Save the date for the opening night presentation on Thursday, November 3, 2016, from 6 to 8pm. We will also host other presentations during the Fair. Stay tuned for upcoming attractions.

Learn more here about this free presentation and exhibit.

We hope you can make it to one or more of these events, if you’re in our neck of the woods. Email us at info@pataphysics.us with any questions or comments about these events.
For more project updates, we invite you to subscribe to our mailing list — or follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Learn more at pataphysics.us .

Hope to see you soon!


Fabrice Florin (a.k.a. Dr. Fabio)

and the Pataphysical Studios crew