Hoberman Sphere - the sphere of fear!

This is a project I started but never finished - I’d love to see it work properly!

I’ve got a Hoberman Sphere which with a length of fishing-wire and pully arrangement you can control it’s size. Using a Lego motor and Mindstorms kit I managed to automate it. I can control the size of the sphere via a Java appplication running on a computer and using a Infrared link. Unfortunately, even with a fair amount of gearing, the motor was never really up to it.

The original idea was to sense when someone came near (by camera, passive-infrared, etc) and contract the sphere, like a hedgehog - hence the sphere of fear! If you stood still it would gradually open-up.

I think to get this working we need to get a more powerful mechanism and a way of controlling it from the computer. It would also need a way of sensing how far the sphere is currently expanded - at the moment it simply runs the motor for as preset time known to be sufficient to open or close it.

Chuck Hoberman has created some brilliant expanding structures.

Some minutes - requests to blog what you remember

Below is a summary of requests for bits which people were talking about at the meeting and could blog with references. By my reckoning the main takeaway from the meeting was the following

Major Developments

Although I’ll get round to writing up the minutes eventually, some key events were…

  • Getting a theme. The Common theme has been agreed to be ‘curiosity’ itself. Each piece would then have its own name, like curiosity:pipedreams.
  • Setting up some kind of milestone before too long, where we might invite friends, curious people, journalists, others? I’ve set up a tag preview for people to tag their comments on this
  • Bunch of opportunities through CSV, IP-ART and others emerging - we just have to decide who we want to work with - there’s a hunger for curiosity

There were a lot of suggestions of things at the meeting which people were going to root out for us and blog up here. I think there was another involving faked broken mirrors in some way, maybe whoever it was could dig it out.

Dave’s twisted map - tag twistedmap

Martin was going to dig out some refs for neural maps which distorted body space according to the density of neurons found at that body part - huge genitals, tiny feet, that kind of thing. Also some stock market representations.

Paul saw something at Edinburgh festival, where countries were swelled according to the media stories which were coming out.

I think Michal had some kind of map thing as well, but didn’t manage to get it down. I’ll blog something up on the Zeitgeist maps if I can find them, and Keith Briggs’ statistician timetables.

Danger High Voltage - tag highvoltage

Chris, do you want to put some stuff up about your coils and other static effects we could use. There was a bit of discussion of making bulbs glow in microwaves, fluorescent tubes glow by rubbing them on your shirt. Any refs of how to do this SAFELY?

Hoberman Sphere - tag swollenballs

This is the amazing growing ball which Dave showed us. There was some kind of link to a massive one in a museum somewhere. Also a link to buy them cheap would be handy if there might be more than one as part of the exhibit.


Vero - could you post a link to openstudios? CSV make a difference day?

Look forward to seeing your blog entries, and if you don’t know where to start, Click here to blog. Full minutes soon to come.

Possible source for audio

Met up with a girl called Lee this morning - happened to be in the house. Anyway, she told me she’s here doing a project to record in audio and video the memories of people at the Ipswich Caribbean Association.

The Ice Project - Ipswich Carribbean Experience will generate a load of multimedia files which are intended as an archive for Ipswich. I guess this could be a very interesting source for seeding our pipedreams thingy.

Squelched maps

A couple of things came to mind from Dave’s Twisted Map idea. For now, take a look at Keith Briggs timetable stuff

Distant past, distant future?

Worth blogging a link to the Boston Cyberarts festival, which inspired us quite a bit to set up the curiosity collective in the first place.

A load of material up there - it ran for more than a fortnight with lots of openings all over the city!  There’s also a 25 page list of funky techno art links here.

I guess if we get our act together, it would make sense to imagine visiting and participating one day in the future….

“It’s not too early to start early thinking and planning for 2007! If you are an artist or arts organization interested in participating, or a corporation interested in sponsoring the next Festival, please get in touch with us”


Tony Hawkinson

What a great exhibit i missed at ACE Gallery, in NYC. Please see the link, Tim Hawkinson is a real inspiration.

Rollable Displays

I think we were talking about this last time…

Mechanics Alive

There’s an event there called Mechanics Alive which involves the infamous Hunkin and I reckon is worth a visit.  Has anyone seen it? Here is the summary…


6 August - 10 September
Cabaret Mechanical Theatre presents Mechanics Alive!!
Ron Fuller, Michael Howard, Tim Hunkin, Peter Markey, Keith Newstead, Paul Spooner and Carlos Zapata

This summer the Gallery will be alive with the sound of clicking cogs, cranks and cams. Cabaret Mechanical Theatre’s collection of automata blend art, technology and philosophy to create mechanical sculptures with a wry sense of humour, individuality and an offbeat view of life. The exhibition reveals how automata work illustrated by original and new pieces by leading artists including Tim Hunkin and Ron Fuller who live in Suffolk. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the show and can make their own automata at the Gallery. The Gallery shop will be selling a selection of automata kits, books and videos to amuse and distract all ages.


Go to Bury Gallery Website and click on current programme. I can’t offer you a direct web link because their site is broken with javascript and frame problems.

Touch Me

Matt Iles and myself went to the Touch Me exhibition at the V&A and enjoyed a number of tactile objects. 

Favourites include the dance mat Pacman, the strokeable plant interface and of course Reb’s text pebble. The show was particularly interesting to us because it contained both digital and more traditional exhibits tied together by a strong theme - and one that explores a sense that is often ignored.

Sadly the exhibition has now finished but Matt and myself will tell you all about it on Wednesday or look at the (excellent) website.

WAG - Regeneration

The Wolsey Art Gallery (WAG) has converted St Mary-at-the-Quay in Ipswich into gallery space during its renovation.  I visited it on Saturday and experienced a number of installations including video and sound art. 

The exhibition is called Regeneration and is open until the 17th September here is the link:-


I felt that although the pieces were interesting in themselves they failed to make optimum use of the space ( i.e. few concessions were made to the fact it was a church nave and not a white cube space.)  I would have also liked to see them exploit the the unifying theme of regeneration more.

However having said that it certainly well worth a visit and I think the location is a good one (by the docks; central but not in a shopping centre.)
If we could achieve something at least equal to this I for one would be pleased.

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