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British artist Alex Allmont built Clunky Drummer, this elegant one-motor Lego drum machine with a Arduino, a proto shield on top wired with a Lego Power Functions power connector, a Digital Delay pedal, and a Drumcomputer MFB-522. The latter two are controlled by the motor as well. The Lego mallets bang on piezo transducers to digitize the beats. (As an art piece, Clunky Drummer is meant to be activated and then left alone.)

I asked Alex why he chose Lego as a medium:

It started when I was finding ways to put across my fascination in manufacturing, and in particular the textiles industry. I wanted to find a playful way to engage with those mechanisms, slow down the workings so you can really pick them apart mentally. Lego works really well because it’s rather clunky, it puts constraints on what you can do so you have to work around it. Most people are familiar with Lego so a tactility in holding and playing with the bricks and I think this makes it easier to mentally get under the hood of my machines. I keep my pieces small scale to keep things tangible. It’s important to me that it’s not robotic, there is no hidden control system, all the relevant workings are there to see running from one motor.

The response I most enjoy is when people get lost in a piece, exploring it without being too analytical, it feels like a mirror of the process I went through in making it.

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net


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