Elastic Museum


This article was written on 07 Nov 2012, and is filled under experimental projects.

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The Great Calculation Weekend @Machine Project

A bit of insider trading and a love letter:

This weekend my husband, Mark Glusker and I will be ‘in residence’ at Machine Project for a weekend of his talks, workshops, and a group calculation performance. Mark is a mechanical engineer who has a keen interest in mechanical calculating machines just before the era of solid-state electronics. We have been working on this idea for a bit, and Machine is an ideal place to not only make it happen, but to provide a context, audience, and site that lets it be intelligent and playful.

Testing out line art and magnifiers

Testing out line art and magnifiers

As an entity, Machine Project has a unique ability to foster a mix of flexibility and cohesion. This talent creates a place not only for interdisciplinary ideas, but also for multidisciplinary approaches to those ideas. The work they support has intellectual depth and rigor- whether its manifestation is serious or fun.

This video will give you a sense of what the weekend holds:

Mark Glusker’s Mechanical Calculating Machines by Kevin Twomey on Vimeo.

 Here’s the info:

EVENT : The Lost Calculator
Friday, November 9th at 8pm
In 1840 Thomas Fowler, an inventor and a self-taught engineer, built a calculating machine made entirely out of wood. Neither the machine nor drawings survived. Mechanical engineer Mark Glusker, working with a team of historians in England, built a reconstruction to prove that it worked. Fowler was a contemporary of Charles Babbage, one of the pioneers of early computers. While Babbage used a decimal system, Fowler used a base 3 calculation. Mark Glusker will provide a lecture about the machine, base 3 calculation and Thomas Fowler.

EVENT : The Great Calculation
Saturday, November 10th at 8pm
Calculators are silent, ubiquitous, boring, and utterly reliable- to the point where you don’t even question the answers that you get. In the early 1960’s they were big, heavy, noisy, smelly objects. They had unique interfaces and needed constant maintenance for reliability. Calculation was a visceral process that shook the entire table. Mark Glusker will talk about his collection of mechanical calculating machines and what makes them so compelling: from their mechanical complexity to the unique interfaces, and industrial design.

After the talk there will be an orchestrated calculation performed simultaneously by 6 mechanical calculators and members of the audience plus a very special secret musical guest!

EVENT : Machine Drawing & Dissection Workshop
Sunday, November 11th from noon to 3pm
This dual-track workshop approaches calculating machines from a technological and experiential point of view. We will disassemble several 1960’s era mechanical calculating machines and explore what makes them work. We will also talk about other forms of calculation without transistors. While continuing to look under the hood of the machines, we will have a simultaneous workshop where participants can make miniature gesture drawings of the motors in action, and create large-scale compositions of their tiny gears, cams, and springs. Machine dissection will be led by Mark Glusker and machine drawing by Maria Mortati.

Register for this class at the following link: http://machineproject.com/archive/classwork/2012/11/11/machine-drawing-dissection-workshop

Mark testing a machine for the perfomance.

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