Simple Machines // Intelligent Machines Contextual Essay

Machines are the driving forces that allow the world to circulate both in analogue and digital forms. The Rube Goldberg Machine can be recognised as a pinnacle symbol of man’s capacity of exerting maximum efforts to accomplish minimal results in a world perhaps where efficiency is marked to function in the opposite way. Technology in today’s era are allowing the transmission of data in all forms to be processed more efficiently and easily, therefore revolutionising facets of everyday life.

My trajectory for this project was to understand techniques and technologies of securing efficient operation, the dynamics of observed systems and on the dynamics of the observer and ultimately the art of growing; both technologically and as humans. I was able to break down my project and the Rube Goldberg Machine in many sectors, through the filter of the Arduino technology. “Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.” (Bruce, 2011). Collaborating material based works with accessible computational platforms.

This project aims to build, create and explore the Rube Goldberg Machine where it can be interpreted and studied through several elements of Cybercultures. The first of which delves into the underlying context, that is Cybernetics. Cybernetics takes as its domain the design, discovery and application of principles of regulation and communication. Cybernetics treats not things but ways of behaving. It does not ask “what is this thing?” but “what does it do?” and “what can it do?”. With this I have used this concept to form an understanding of systems to which deal with a more complex form of contact between humans and machines, laying it as the foundation. My Digital Artifact aims to emphasise the realms of diverse contraptions through concepts such as the fundamentals of machinery through simple engines such as the Lever, Wheel & Axel, Pulley, Inclined Plane, Wedge and Screw (Bureau of Naval Personel, 1971). And then with a programmable microcontroller, the Arduino, use these structures to then create new forms of apparatuses that behave with each other and the user in the setting of home automation. The Internet of Things can change the way citizens live, travel, and take care of each other. My work offers an insight to which this notion is activated, shifting how one might behave and act in the comfort of their own home.  Warren Ellis points out that technologies alike withhold the language of magic within – “We made it do things by pointing at it” (Ellis, 2014). And we as a society were sold magic as the affordance of technology. So at the same time this project takes the old paradigm of the Rube Goldberg Machine and then brings magic to the technology evident today by application.

The social utility lies with my efforts to involve the audience to engage and interact with my created content; the explosion of new technologies and the breakdown of medium specific art have resulted in a broader community at hand. A tutorial-eque framework was used to educate not only the audience but myself about growing technological industries.

The Rube Goldberg Machine within the household, Cybernetics in practice and emerging technology as contemporary enchantment has aided me in creating an array of content. That are not only important to my findings and creations but the integrity of the Rube Goldberg Machine and future technologies as a whole, in attempts to extend a reach to larger audiences, art forms and industries.




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David, N., Chima, A., Ugochukwu, A. and Obinna, E. (2015). Design of Home Automation System Using Arduino. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, Vol.6, Edition 6, pp.795-801, date accessed: 20 May 2017 < >

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