Tag Archives: peer learning

Make Your Own Art Wonderbox

Workshop participants will learn how to create a Halloween Wonderbox like this one, which features a blinking skull, a spinning wheel and a talking spider, as shown in this video.

Pataphysical Studios and the Mill Valley Library invite you to join the “Make Your Own Art Wonderbox” workshop, on Saturday, October 17, 2-4 pm.

This two-hour workshop is aimed at kids ages 8-12 (and their parents, if they want to join). You don’t need any technical experience to participate, and the class is designed for up to 12 children (any number of observers are welcome). Update: this workshop is now full.

This session will show you how to create your own interactive art — like the Halloween Wonderbox shown above — using simple electronics to make characters light up, move and/or play sounds — even speak to you!

The workshop will be led by Fabrice Florin (a.k.a. Dr. Fabio), who was a multimedia pioneer at Apple Computer (and more recently for Wikipedia), and who is one of the founders of Pataphysical Studio. Other teachers are Jean Bolte (a.k.a. Dr. Figurine) who worked on the X-Ray Skull with  Dr. Canard, and her daughter Natalie Frederick (a.k.a. Dr. Canard) who built the X-Ray Skull and is our resident poet at Pataphysical Studios.


Fabrice Florin                                                                             Natalie Frederick and Jean Bolte

We will start with a demo of a working wonderbox we created at Pataphysical Studios. We will then show our Halloween Wonderbox Video, introduce the wonderbox kits. Participants will then break up in small groups of 2-3 to work together, using these instructions. The goal is for each group to complete a first rough wonderbox by the end of the workshop.

kit1The Mill Valley Library will provide all materials, including kits from our partner KitHub, to support these goals:

  • LEDs to light up your box
  • Switches to turn them on
  • Motors to make things move
  • Sound chips to play/record audio
  • Diagrams with easy instructions

Kit2A ‘wonderbox’ is an interactive art experience that features playful characters in miniature dioramas. Characters include singing flowers, alien invaders,  X-ray skulls and  more. Each wonderbox twinkles with lights, plays sounds and/or makes characters move. These scenes take place in boxes that are 9” by 9” by 6” — the standard size used for the Pataphysical Slot Machine.

Pataphysical Studios is a community of artists, technologists, teachers and students.We are part of a growing ‘art maker movement’ that is changing creative expression, technology and education everywhere. We are inspired by ‘Pataphysics, “the science of imaginary solutions”.

We will exhibit the Pataphysical Slot Machine at the Mill Valley Public Library every weekend in October 2015. Come see see it during open hours, Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm to 5pm!

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

We hope you’ll join us — and learn how you too can become an ‘art maker’!

Fabrice Florin (a.k.a. Dr. Fabio)
Jean Bolte (a.k.a. Dr. Figurine)
Natalie Frederick (a.k.a. Dr. Canard)

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.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_PyKBboQVI; w=640&h=480&rel=0]

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.