Perpetual Energy Wasting Machine

Craft & Design
Perpetual Energy Wasting Machine
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Niklas Roy is at it again. This time, he has created a machine that causes an elevator to call itself to the first floor when it is on the second, and vice versa, in order to endlessly waste energy. It even adds up the amount of wasted energy on a paper calculator roll, which it dumps in the trash.

“Perpetual Energy Wasting Machine” is a rope and pulley mechanism, installed in the staircase of the WRO Art Center in Wroclaw, Poland. The mechanism connects the sliding doors of the elevator in one floor with the elevator call button on another floor. Operating in two directions on the first and on the second floor, the contraption automatically moves the elevator cabin in an infinite loop between those two levels.

Perpetual Energy Wasting Machine

14 thoughts on “Perpetual Energy Wasting Machine

  1. Jason Tardy (of AudioBody) says:

    LOVE IT! ….especially the finish touch of the trash can.

  2. flugfrei jones says:

    that .. is hilarious.

  3. miroslava von schlochbaum says:

    The failure “mode” over a long weekend of this ought to be sent to the elevator company with compliments for free testing.

  4. Dek says:

    Yes, the best part is definitely that it prints out the wasted energy and puts that in the trash. That is brilliant.

    This might seem like a stupid question, but…..why did you build this?
    There must be some underlying reason.

    1. Marc says:

      This work explores the irony that the more effort, long hours, and contemplation put into creating a work of art, it is ultimately a waste of time, energy, and material resources to get across a message that could probably be summarized easier by a three sentence paragraph that would have taken only a few minutes to compose and consuming a negligible fraction of the resources in comparison. Not to mention the lost opportunity to do something more practical that would have had a greater positive impact for a greater number of people with more substantial needs. Brilliant!

    2. Niklas says:

      Allright, Dek. This is Niklas. I made this thing – and here’s why:

      As you might have read already on my website, I was invited for a month to Poland in order to create a new piece at the WRO Art Center. When I’ve seen the building for the first time at the beginning of my stay, I immedeately recognized the aesthetic potential of the elevator, because of its particular architectural situation, with being visible from the street and with the open staircase inside.

      The people of the art center also played with the elevator already: They’ve changed all its sounds inside the cabin (when it arrives at the different levels) with bird chirping and other funny noises. You cannot hear that in the video, as I found this too distracting and kept it out. But it seems that this elevator invites to be played with. So I talked a bit with the art center guys about the elevator and somehow we also talked about the energy consumption of it. The technical director told me that he was surprised by how much electricity it uses.

      Just the evening before, I read in a book about the future of energy sources, the fact that all countries use about 10% of their GDP for energy – regardless wether it is a first world or a developing country. It was not clear to the author (Nobel prize winning physicist Robert B. Laughlin) in which direction this causality goes. Do countries use more energy because they’re more rich? Or are they more rich because they use more energy? – Personally, I think that this effect goes in both directions.

      And recently, I also heard about this other fact, that Polands economy is in a very particular situation: Since about ten years, their GDP is continuously growing. Despite all crisises. There isn’t any other country in Europe with such a steady growing economy. And even worldwide, there probably aren’t many countries with such continuity in economic growth.

      Those both facts were my inspiration for building this machine. I thought that Poland, becoming richer and richer, can either afford to have such a machine. Or – such a machine will make Poland even more rich. The latter probably in a very metaphysical way. Which was both OK for me.

      I can imagine that not everyone can follow my thoughts at this point. That’s also the reason, why I kept all this economy stuff out of the project description on my website. And as I can see in all the comments on the Internet, people seem to see very different things in that contraption – which is very inspiring for me to read.

  5. Ken says:

    There are elevators that have a program which forces them to repeatedly visit every floor.
    It’s referred to as “Sabbath mode” and is run, (when else?) on the Sabbath.
    It keeps the passengers from having to call it. Calling the elevator lights a button, which is considered “starting a fire” which is a proscribed activity.

    So call this “Poor Man’s Sabbath Mode”.

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John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He builds project for Adafruit Industries. You can find him at and twitter/IG @johnedgarpark

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