Automata at the Exploratorium – Curious Contraptions: Small Machines of Love and Mystery

November 16–January 28, 2018
Explore small, surreal worlds at Curious Contraptions, an exhibition featuring charming, often hilarious mechanical sculptures known as automata. These whimsical machines are brought to life by intricate arrangements of simple, handmade mechanisms.


Meet the artists


James Turrell’s Sky Spaces

Installation artist James Turrell, at Roden Crater in northern Arizona in 2001.  Credit Florian Holzherr

I am always on the lookout for something or someone new and interdisciplinary to bring to the STEAM Hub. James Turrell,  an installation artist and son of an aeronautical engineer and Peace Corps doctor, seems to have that beautiful mix of aesthetic creativity partnered with science that is so interesting to me.   It came as no surprise that his undergraduate studies focused on psychology and mathematics; only later, in graduate school, did he pursue art, receiving an MFA from the Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California.

Here are a few of his Arizona projects to wet your whistle.  When it cools off just a little, I think a James Turrell art road trip is in order.

Roden Crater
The natural cinder cone crater is now home to a land art project and naked eye observatory thirty plus years in the making that will blow your mind.

Air Apparent
A Sky Space Art Installation by James Turrell and Will Bruder at the ASU Tempe campus.

Knight Rise
Another Turrell public sky space located at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.





David C. Roy’s Kinetic Sculptures


roy-1roy-dimensionsDavid C. Roy studied engineering, physics, and chemistry and ended up obtaining a physics degree from Boston University. Although it seems unlikely he gained an interest for art. He was influenced by his wife and his interest in motion which led him to create kinetic sculptures. His work is usually made of wood running on wind-up mechanisms and not on electricity.  He has a studio in Connecticut where people can enjoy his artwork.

-Link to his website



Sisyphus Kinetic Sculpture

legoJason Allemann has a website devoted to building kinetic sculptures out of Legos. As a child he recalls being fascinated by Legos and enjoying building things. So he combined these two interest and created the JKBrickworks website which is full of interesting projects. One of his most fascinating projects is the sculpture of Sisyphus who received the punishment of pushing a boulder up a hill for infinity. He provided a set of materials and instructions needed to build this amazing sculpture. Although for most of us it might take us an infinite amount of time to build it we can still enjoy this everlasting sculpture.

-Link for video and instructions