Melvin the Mini Machine
by HEYHEYHEY

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Dutch design studio HEYHEYHEY assembled an assortment of objects including toothbrushes, books, marbles, matches and a toy train inside two suitcases to build a chain-reaction machine that signs and stamps a postcard.

Melvin the Mini Machine

Melvin the Mini Machine was shown at Ventura Lambrate in Milan last month and is now off on it's travels, sending postcards from each new location.

Melvin the Mini Machine

It also uses a smartphone attached to one lid to record it's surroundings, then uploads the pictures to Twitter, Facebook and its own blog.

Melvin the Mini Machine

The project is a development of HEYHEYHEY's Melvin the Machine installation that was originally built in a warehouse on the outskirts of Eindhoven in 2010 - see our movie about it here. Both are Rube Goldberg machines, named after the American cartoonist and inventor's humorous illustrations of overly elaborate systems for simple tasks.

Melvin the Mini Machine

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Here's some more information from the makers of Melvin:


Melvin is a Rube Goldberg machine

Melvin the Magical Mixed Media Machine (Melvin the Machine or simply Melvin for friends) is a Rube Goldberg machine with a twist. Besides doing what Rube Goldbergs do best – performing a simple task as inefficiently as possible, often in the form of a chain reaction – Melvin has an online identity as well, which he uses to connect to and interact with his audience

Melvin the Mini Machine

A brief history

When we built our first Melvin late 2010, we built it BIG because it needed to entertain loads of people all at once. After its initial (online) succes, a lot of people, companies and festivals enquired about its availability to do a show. After some phone calls and e-mails back and forth the conclusion was always the same: Melvin was simply too big and expensive to rebuild.

Melvin the Mini Machine

So what’s new?

Early 2012, we had some time to spare and we felt the need to challenge ourselves once again, so we set out to build a new Melvin. This time around we could determine our own boundaries and that’s why we decided to build a travel version that ‘sends’ its own postcards and interacts (in some way) with the people around it. Like a proper traveler, one could say.

Melvin the Mini Machine

On the road again

In short, this new Melvin is a Rube Goldberg machine specifically built to travel the world, and let‘s be honest, we like the idea of going with him whenever and wherever we can.You can find out more about where he’s already been right here. Information on how the new Melvin works, its different parts and how to contact us can be found here.

Melvin the Mini Machine

Sending his love

Conveniently built in two old suitcases, Melvin the Mini Machine is a Rube Goldberg machine specifically designed to travel the world. Each time Melvin fully completes a run, he ‘signs’ a postcard and sticks a stamp to it - making it ready to be sent.

Melvin the Mini Machine

Let‘s get non-physical

Like its bigger brother, Melvin the Mini Machine also has an online non-physical side (you’re looking at it right now) which he uses to connect to the people he meets. More on that subject later...

Melvin the Mini Machine

Interactive by default

As soon as Melvin is set up for a run, he starts gathering geographical data, which he uses to determine where he is in the world. He will then publish that info on this site and through his Twitter account and Facebook page.
If everything goes according to plan, you’ll be seeing a lot more markers appearing on the map above in the coming months.

Melvin the Mini Machine

Truly mobile

To gather the GPS information Melvin needs to determine where he is, and to make sure he’s truly mobile, we fitted him with a smartphone equipped with a camera that we use to interact with his audience.

Melvin the Mini Machine

...and how does that work?

Not only does Melvin map where he is, he also takes pictures of his surroundings and the people he meets - pretty much like a real tourist or traveler. So, don’t be surprised to see yourself on the map when you’ve seen Melvin the Mini Machine in real life.

Melvin the Mini Machine

The mark of the Melvin

We encourage people who come watch Melvin do a run to wear a marker (or glyph). These markers can be read by Melvin’s smartphone and be used to see how many people attend a run, how big or small they are, how far away they are from the machine, and so on. We can even superimpose images on the markers.

Concept, design and production by HEYHEYHEY
Starring Steye van Dam
Co-production and support: PostPanic
Camera: Diderik Evers
Music: "The wonders of the world" by Woody Veneman
Editing: Ine van den Elsen
Sound: Joris Tillmans
Styling: Annemiek Swinkels
Programming: Maarten Witteveen
Clothing by Magda
Smartphone sponsored by Blue Mango Interactive


See also: Melvin the Machine

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  • Dom

    I just love the ingenious yet totally unnecessary complexity of Rube Goldberg machines.

  • lala

    How could you NOT love this.