The blog of author Dennis Cooper

30 machines: Self High Five Machine, The Laff-Box, Cloaca Professional, Ice Cream Cone Maker, Jaquet Droz’ Machine à Ecrire le Temps, Flamethrower Organ, Schaufelradbagger 258, Scrambler, my Sparkfun Antimov 2010 contest entry, The Euphonia, Conspiring Machine, Crack Pipe Vending Machine, The Thread Wrapping Machine, Philip K. Dick android portrait, STYN, Sewing Machine Orchestra, Sweeping Spirals, The Bowlingual, Machine with Roller Chain, Globe Presser, Elegy: GTA USA Gun Homicides, The Hydraulophone, The Saint AKMA 3000 ml, une machine bizarre, The Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, The Drumssette, Darwin-Coxe Machine, The Bread-in-a-Can Vending Machine, Automatic stick incense making machine, The Dodge Embalming Machine

Turkish artist Deniz Ozuygur created The Self High Five Machine to reflect on the symbol of popularity and acceptance during her grade school days. The two arms are made from rubber casts of her own right arm—one anchored to the wall and the other slowly spinning on a motor that completes a full rotation once per minute. Observers of Ozuygur’s creation would watch in suspense as the rotating arm approached its height, only to be let down when the two arms missed. However, people stayed, hopeful that the two arms would eventually connect to make a good high five. It never happened.’ — atlas obscura


The Laff-Box was created by Charles Douglass, a sound engineer for CBS studios in the early 1950’s, to enhance the audience response for both radio and television programs. Early on, Mr. Douglass saw the need for sound enhancement to make jokes and other lines more affective in recorded productions. The box seemingly ahead of its time with technology and ingenuity. Is about the size of todays standard dishwasher, with wheels for easy transport and numerous tapes with a keyboard that he used to select certain sounds and laughs. With a foot pedal he could control the length and increase or fade out of the tape recorded laughter.’ — Live Leak


‘What is it? It’s a machine you feed normal human food, and it goes through its stomachs and gets shitted out the other end. So how does Cloaca Professional work? In much the same way as we all do. It is fed and maintained at body temperature while food travels through a kind of mechanical and chemical assembly line involving ‘organs’, enzymes necessary for digestion, farting and a smelly solid end product. Cloaca is a work of art that produces works of art.’ — Museum of Old and New Art


The Ice Cream Cone Maker


‘The Jaquet Droz’ Machine à Ecrire le Temps is a complex structure that artistically shows how complex the innards of a watch could be. In fact, to tell time, a lot of complex machinery has to be involved and this particular Horological machine conveys that complex message in this manner. Machine à écrire le temps apparently was not intended to look like the “Android” or any other common device that is famous right now. It was built as a philosophical contemplation about time itself. It has more than 1,200 watch parts, 84 ball bearings and 50 belts. If you put a sheet of paper at the designated place, it writes the time in pencil, 4 digits at a time.’ —


‘So yeah, It all started with the idea, WOULDNT IT BE GOOD TO BUILD A FLAMETHROWER ORGAN. Not even knowing if it would work. It took 2 weeks to put together, at the beginning i had no idea about anything to do with gas at all! but after a quick search on the internet and a mess around with a whistle and an old camping stove i was all set! Initially i planned to get an old church organ off eBay (they go for next to nothing!) but i did some tests with a single organ pipe and because of their makeup of tin/lead. IT MELTED. So i got out some blunt files and a hack saw and made some pipes out of copper! so yeah……. thats the flamethrower organ for you! the keyboard is a midi keyboard controlled by an arduino mega, its just an organ keybed which are great cus each key has a seperate wire. connecting to a common bus, none of those button matrix mallarkies.’ — lmnc


Schaufelradbagger 258, the world’s largest excavator, is seen working in the Tagebau Hambach, a large open-pit mine in Niederzier and Elsdorf, North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany.’ — collaged


‘With this project, I connected a gas generator and air compressor to buckets of paint and secured them onto the seat of a Scrambler amusement park ride. Once the ride was in motion, paint sprayed out of the seat onto an enormous vinyl tarp placed underneath. The result is a series of 60 x 60 foot Spirograph designs which recorded the hidden patterns created by the ride as it turned.’ — Rosemarie Fiore


‘This is my Sparkfun Antimov 2010 contest entry. It’s a teddy bear birthday party. The robot attempts to cut the cake but fails. The clown and bear were supposed to point and laugh at him but it looks like my cheap Chinese servos failed too soon. The robot then shoots the bear with his laser, lighting the bear’s hat on fire. He shoots the clown next and then the laser malfunctions, lighting everything else on fire. In the end, the robot kills himself by jumping into the fire on the table.’ — Dennis Brunner


The Euphonia consisted of a bizarre-looking head that spoke in a “weird, ghostly monotone” voice and was manipulated with foot pedals and a keyboard. By pumping air with the bellows and manipulating a series of plates, chambers, and other apparatus, including an artificial tongue, the operator could make it speak any European language. It was even able to sing the anthem God Save the Queen. The Euphonia was invented in 1845 by Joseph Faber, a German immigrant. While the Euphonia amazed people, there was resistance to it, perhaps because its ability to imitate a human speaker incited fear of replacement by the machine. It is not that the machine promises eternal speech after the speaker’s death, but rather the death of the speaker in favor of the artificial speech. The Euphonia failed to preserve the human, causing it to fall out of favor and to be replaced by the phonograph, which records and projects the human, and the telephone which transfers and connects the human.’ — collaged


Conspiring Machine (2007) is a kinetic sculpture by Norwegian artist Kristoffer Myskja. It appears to be like a classic mechanical music box. The cylinder and cogs are there, and spikes touch levers as the machine does its ‘work’. Levers turn switches, triggering small electronic components to play sounds through two speakers. Each speaker plays combinations of consonants and vowels, in two different voices, giving the impression of conversation between two characters. The consonant-vowel combinations are the most common in every language, so the machine constructs a kind of neutral language. You will perceive it almost as words, but never actually understand what it is talking about.’ — Galleri K


‘Town of Brookhaven officials and Suffolk County police are trying to figure out who placed three Crack Pipe Vending Machines, dubbed as pen vending machines, in Coram and Medford. The town received complaints about the machines over the weekend. Two of them — one of which had partially destroyed by community members — have been removed. The blue and white vending machines, which featured the words “Sketch Pens” on the outside in black and red font, were mounted in cement into the ground and would dispense a small glass tube and a filter. Included was the top of a pen, which could be put into the glass tube to form a pen, along with an ink tube. The “pens” cost $2 each, and the machines would accept the payment in the form of eight quarters.’ — abc7ny


The Thread Wrapping Machine is a tool to join different types of material with only a glue-coated thread to bind the objects. No screws or nails are used to join the different components of the furniture. By using this construction method, materials such as wood, steel, or plastic can be joined to form objects and constructed spaces. I wanted to create an externalised joint that would enable me to combine a big range of different materials that normally would require very time-consuming methods of joining them together, and at the same time, to create a decorative pattern formed by the different colours of the thread.’ — Anton Alvarez


‘The android portrait of Philip K. Dick–an intelligent, evolving robotic recreation of the sci-fi writer who authored VALIS, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, UBIK, and many other masterworks. By ressurecting PKD as an android, we seek to realize genius-level AI with compassion and creativity. While we have a long way to go, even the early versions of the robot have made strong leaps forward towards this goal, resulting in an AAAI award for the AI systems, breakthrough abilities in robotic conversations and human-robot interaction, and world renown. The first version was built in 2005 by Hanson Robotics. Unfortunately later that year the robot was lost in transit to a Google Tech Talk, and the project remained dormant for 3 years thereafter.’ — Hanson Robotics


‘Dutch graphic designer Sam van Doorn has modified a pinball machine so that it uses lithographic ink to make prints. Calling his machine STYN, the device makes messy modern art on poster board with six flippers and the ball. van Doorn doesn’t call the resulting works art, rather he thinks of them as design pieces which are the product of “fun and play.” The modified pinball machine was a part of van Doorn’s graduation project. The machine itself will be appearing at different parties where people can use it to make their own designs, but posters are also available for sale in van Doorn’s website.’ —


‘What can a sewing machine do besides sew? In Sewing Machine Orchestra, Montreal composer Martin Messier sets up his own musical factory with a handful of old Singer sewing machines from the ‘50’s, ‘60’s and ‘70’s. As a new media artist, Messier uses everyday utilitarian objects to create electronic music with an unconventional twist. Rather than focus on one medium in particular, he grounds his practice in experimentation and electro-accoustic music, inviting the spectator to become a sonic explorer. “I’m interested in objects that can be manipulated and which have a sonic potential. When I came across the Singer sewing machine, I realized right away that it had that sonic potential,” says Messier, who is a member of the Montreal digital arts collective Perte de Signal.’ —


Sweeping Spirals is part of series of suspended installations by Canadian artist Jean-Pierre Gauthier in which geometric forms (instants angulaires) break up and reassemble in an unpredictable manner. The work is also related to a set of works the artist created around the theme of house cleaning. In Sweeping Spirals, two brooms situated on the opposite ends of a set of interconnected broomsticks take on the shape of a long spiral. Each spiral segment seems to act on its own and the perfect form is only rarely reestablished. In fact, motors pull strings attached to the joints between the segments, creating jerky movements that manipulate them like a big marionette. Moreover, now and then the brooms rub against the floor and push a bit of debris without ever really collecting it.’ — FILE


The first version of this device appeared back in 2002. Now a new version of the Bowlingual comes into attention. The device is able to analyze a dog’s bark and figure out its emotion. The device will only be available for the dog lovers living in Japan. According to the company the Bowlingual is able to understand six of the dog’s basic emotions. The first model included a microphone attached to a dog’s neck and a special handheld unit that was used to read the data and transmitted it from the microphone to the display. The latest version features a more compact unit that includes a speech synthesizer. The latter audibly informs the person about the things their dog tries to say. Just like the first model, this one shows all data on the screen of the handheld unit.’ — infoniac


‘Like a recycling fountain, Arthur Ganson’s Machine with Roller Chain presents the random play of dribbling, puddling, snaking metal chains. Ganson reveals something of the tinkering-scientific way he works when he tells of his first pass at Machine with Roller Chain. Initially envisioning the lumpy chain falling, blob-like, into the middle of a cradling arc, Ganson said he discovered that a curvature simply caused the chain to “glump to one side and turn around and around. It was completely boring.” He decided to bend each side of the arc up into flanges.’ —


‘The world is flat when the process of making a globe begins. Highly detailed and informative artwork prepared by a staff of researchers and cartographers is printed on sheets of cardboard. The Southern Hemisphere is printed on one sheet, and the Northern Hemisphere is reproduced on a second sheet of cardboard. Gores, or tapering triangles, are then diecut into the printed sheets by a specialized machine; the half globe with cut gores looks like a pinwheel or a banana peel with a pole at the center and the parts of the peel forming segments of the world. The artwork is designed and the gores are located in such a way that adjacent segments will match correctly when joined. The cardboard hemispheres are then subjected to heat and pressure in a forming press to shape them into half spheres. The forming press works much like a curling iron and heats each hemisphere to about 300° F (148.9° C) for 90 seconds. In the joining process, the two halves are glued together to produce the round ball, and Equator tape is placed to cover the seam.’ — ba-bamail


‘Joseph Delappe’s new project – developed in collaboration with Albert Elwin (coding) and James Wood (consultant), Elegy: GTA USA Gun Homicides, is a self-playing version of Grand Theft Auto V that – starting each midnight CST (Central Standard Time) – reenacts/ recounts/ represents the entire body count to date from January 1st 2018 in-game. In other words, the project visualizes real life gun-related homicides in the United States of America though the filter of a video game. Each daily update represents – in a graphic, literal way – the body count reported by a gun violence website. The next day, the program scrapes the new data and starts again, in a perverse Groundhog Day-sort of way, while “God Bless America” – both the original version by Irving Berlin (1918) as well as Kate Smith’s iteration (1938) – plays in the background.’ — Game Scenes


The Hydraulophone is similar to an organ. It uses a constant stream of water, in conjunction with the player’s hands, to make notes.’ — The Capitol Theatre


‘Unlike conventional coffee makers, the Saint AKMA 3000 ml does not boil water, relying instead on the forces of gravity for its cold-brew method: Water travels carefully from the upper glass orb down to the second tier, which houses flasks of ground coffee, and eventually journeys to the final level where the java mixture awaits. Patience is the way of this technique, as the entire process requires several hours. Dutch Lab suggests setting up the AKAM overnight for sunrise gratification. This decadent transparence grants liberties to each drinker, who can adjust the water-to-coffee ratio via calibrated valves, and enjoy a less acidic brew.’ — robbreport


‘chloé la pro fait des vidéos. une machine bizarre. ajouter un commentaire si vous savez ce que c’est.’


‘During his final decade, Friedrich Nietzsche’s worsening constitution continued to plague the philosopher. In addition to having suffered from incapacitating indigestion, insomnia, and migraines for much of his life, the 1880s brought about a dramatic deterioration in Nietzsche’s eyesight, with a doctor noting that his “right eye could only perceive mistaken and distorted images.” Nietzsche himself declared that writing and reading for more than twenty minutes had grown excessively painful. With his intellectual output reaching its peak during this period, Nietzsche required a device that would let him write while making minimal demands on his vision. The Malling-Hansen Writing Ball seemed to fit the bill: the writing ball was the closest thing to a 19th century laptop. The first commercially-produced typewriter, the writing ball was the 1865 creation of Danish inventor Rasmus Malling-Hansen, and was shown at the 1878 Paris Universal Exhibition to journalistic acclaim.’ — open culture


The Drumssette was built by Mike Walters in 2010. The Drumssette is a Tascam four track cassette recorder that I turned into a programmable drum machine. A cassette with four tracks of repeating drum sounds can be mapped into a 16 step rhythm using the 64 switches on the interface. The audio on the cassette tape also clocks the sequencer.’ — Mystery Circuits


‘This unpleasant piece of equipment, the Darwin-Coxe Machine, was used to swing mental illness patients back and forth until they remained quiet. This machine was used in Vienna, Austria, in the early part of the 20th century.’ — Medical Plastics News


The Bread-in-a-Can Vending Machine; ‘There are many kinds of vending machine in Japan. This video shows bread can vending machine. There were chocolate bread, strawberry bread, milk bread, caramel bread. I bought a caramel bread.’ — japanesestuffchannel


Automatic stick incense making machine with small size, simple operation, computer control, easy maintenance and low failure rate, save labor, high productivity. The produces incense easy to dry. It can produce a variety of specifications of Buddhist Incense, the production branch 220-280 per minute. Made of high quality incense, incense surface is smooth, incense head and tail neat appearance. Anyone who has not been trained can handle this machine. The machine is with character of high working efficiency, easy operation.’ — FR


The Dodge Embalming Machine is a breakthrough in the control offered to the embalmer, when injecting arterial fluid into the deceased. With unique features, the Dodge APC Embalming machine can be relied upon to produce consistently excellent penetration and distribution of embalming fluid. Using the machine is simple and we would recommend taking a few moments to become familiar with its operating features. The Dodge Embalming machine with APC is designed to control the flow rate of embalming fluid and automatically adjust the pressure to ensure the rate of flow is maintained. The machine also offers both direct and pulsating injection. The machine features two gauges to show the level of fluid in the tank as well as the rate of flow. there is also a dial on the front of the machine to adjust the rate of flow.’ —




p.s. Hey. Heads up: I’ve had a tooth ache for a few days and last night the pain went nuclear to the point where I have an emergency dental appointment in a couple of hours, all of which is to say I’m doing this p.s. through pain and painkillers, so it might really suck. My apologies. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Oh, shit, my overly hungry blog. I’m glad you liked his work, and thank you for the love. Hm, Think I’d like ‘Gaby und Luciano’ for some reason. His paintings are so huge, I think I’ll have to fasten it to my ceiling. Due my pain, I’m going be selfish and wish me and you and whoever else needs it love like a dentist with wizard-like healing powers and a reasonable fee, G. ** Ferdinand, Hi. My book doesn’t come out until September so I’d be pretty shocked if it was sale all the way over here before then. What I do this weekend will depend on what the dentist does to my mouth and how I survive it, I guess. Getting ready for my trip in any case. Thanks about the interview. I hope your weekend is very pain free. ** Misanthrope, Good. Uh, I guess it nails that you’re a fiction writer. Hope you guys come to the big P, obviously. Oh, right, it’s 4th of July weekend, I forgot. BBQ and stuff? Fireworks? Hope it all boats your float. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. I’ve never seen one in person myself. I should check the museums around here. ** Jamie, Hi, Jamie. Thank you again. I might be able to recommend Disneyland books, but my head, and, consequently, memory is too battened down by pain at the moment, so let me get this stupid mouth of mine righted, and then I’ll assign it a relevant book title hunt. Like I said above, my weekend plans have thrown into question by my tooth’s rebellion, so it’ll depend on whether the dentist can fix it and leave me mobile and functioning at the same time. If so, see friends, work on the sound aspect of our new film with Puce Mary, eat nachos, and, in any case, run lots of  pre-trip errands. I’ll let you know. Did you get to the cinema, and what did you see? Have an amazing coupla days in any case. Love, me. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. No, we fly to Orlando first for a 3/4 day amusement park blow out and then on to LA. I’m not sure if we’ll travel otherwise. It’ll depend on what needs to be done re: the new film work/prep. I’m intrigued by the sound of ‘Siberia’. I’ll see if I can find it. I thought soap2day was dead, but it seems to have changed addresses and formatting or something, on my end at least? ** David Ehrenstein, Thanks for the info. ** Dalton, Hi. There are pictures of Patti Smith posing with those paintings and comically mimicking her poses in them, so I would assume she’s down with the results. Best of luck finishing the writing thing. Cheerleading vibes from me. Yeah, I think DFW is easily one of the greatest American writers of recent generations. His sentences are so genius they drive me nuts. I didn’t know him like a best friend or anything, but he certainly never seemed pathetic or annoying. I don’t know where that author got that from. He was very humble and thoughtful, very generous and, obviously, extremely smart. I liked him a lot. I can’t remember any downside to him personally at all. Glad you liked the post. I hope you have a really great weekend! ** Right. I’m giving you a bunch of machines to theoretically delight in or something, and I hope you will. And I will see you on Monday, and hopefully not while in pain.


  1. rewritedept


    just saw you reran my sparklehorse day. you’re coming to the states? of course, it’s after i moved away from bear. so, catch up time. i moved to reno a month or so back. been cooking at the renaissance hotel downtown. lots of hours, decent money. i’m too tired to do much of anything outside of work now. well, do let me know if you’re gonna be up SF way during yr visit, i’ll try to cruise down for a day or two and visit. would love to see you. i have to get some sleep. talk soon. love you.


  2. Dominik


    Ah, yes, the “Gaby und Luciano” one is amazing, too! I have a fairly large empty wall in my room, so maybe I could put one of his pieces there. You know, if he offered.

    Shit, I’m so sorry about your tooth! I definitely hope your love works its wonders! How are you?

    Love gently taking your pain away and transforming it into a beautiful, pale boy moaning quietly in a Darwin-Coxe Machine for 8 hours, Od.

  3. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Wow, this PS really did suck. You were right. I’m kidding. Hope you get that taken care of and get back to feeling 100% right away!

    I’m always wondering what life would be like if we get to the point where we have really functional, say, androids that could do soooo much for us.

    This scifi show by the Family Guy creator called The Orville had a theme about that. Essentially, we’d created all these androids, they became self-aware, realized they were just slaves, and revolted, killing humans all over the place and trying to take over the universe. I kinda hope something like that doesn’t happen, hahaha.

    Yes, already thinking how we could finagle a trip to Paris next year.

    Again, hope you get better pronto.

  4. T

    Hi Dennis,

    This was such a glorious post! So many things to delight in…so much so that I’m most probably going to return tomorrow to have a closer look. As if your post was a precision built machine to prod at my interest and pleasure on an early sunday morning where i’m typing. I liked the robots dinner party especially, but the bowlingual, the high fiving machine, the cloaca turd machine were all really great. Otherwise, really hope the dentist was able to sort out the toothache in sufficient time not to completely cloud your weekend…xT

  5. _Black_Acrylic

    Hope you are feeling loads better!

    My habit now is to only drink 1 coffee per week as I did this morning, so the Saint AKMA 3000 ml machine could actually suit this lifestyle quite well. Think it tastes any better for all that extra time it takes to prepare? Dunno, seems a strange process to me.

  6. Steve Erickson

    Are you feeling better now?

    I don’t quite understand how the Drumsette works, but it sounds nice, as does the version of “Whiter Shade of Pale” on the Hydraulophone.

    ELEGY: USA GTA GUN VIOLENCE feels like a machinima version of Alan Clarke’s ELEPHANT, although Clarke would’ve found the music too obvious.

    Was the crack pipe vending machine a prank?

  7. Jamie

    Hey Dennis, I hope you got that tooth pain sorted and nullified, did you? Toothache is such an all consumer, I find.
    Nice machines post. Why do I find wonky machines so much more elegant and moving than healthy machines that work properly? Sweeping Spirals really got me in that way. Both the ice cream cone machine and the globe maker made me wonder why I hadn’t thought of that before and the incense machine was crazy once I worked out what was going on (and also sounded really good).
    I never made it to the cinema, but instead went to an exhibition that seemed pretty great, but I’ll be returning without a toddler to check, haha. Best thing was a bookshop that was attached to the gallery that was completely dreamy, lots of good stuff and tons I didn’t know. Ari bought me a Dodie Bellamy book for Father’s Day.
    Did you manage to get up and out and do the things you wanted to do? Hope you had the nicest, most pain-free weekend possible.
    Unearthly love,

  8. James


    I hope your tooth pain is resolved quickly!

    The PKD Android is really creepy, I wonder what PKD would have thought of it?

    No Mark Pauline or Survival Research Laboratories, Dennis?! Perhaps that choice would have been too obvious.

    Below is a video link of This Machine Eats Everything, which I dramatized in Body by Drake as the TMEE 1000. The creepy / cheesy music and the cloyingly chipper voiceover that accompanies this video reminds me of the narrator of Faces of Death, for some reason…

    Get well soon, Dennis!


  9. Bill

    Some lovely machines today, Dennis. I remember a conference where Steve Mann was a special guest, and showed some of the hydraulophones. Some of the regulars were also talking about hosting a flamethrower organ or similar, not sure if it ever happened.

    You probably know Matt Heckert’s post-Survival Research Labs work?

    I can’t say I’m a big photorealist fan, but some of Franz Gertsch’s paintings are pretty interesting.

    Hope the illegal fireworks won’t be too over-the-top tonight. I’m staying in and catching up on some reading.


  10. David Ehrenstein

    Homage a New York

    Ifyou live in L.A. please contact me at and come on over and buy things — Books, CDs, DVDs . I have wide seletion and I’m here all day

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2021 DC's

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑