Freelance graphic designer Echo Yang turned everyday objects into little, autonomous art machines. Yang created The Autonomous Machines Project by making a few simple additions to the mechanisms powering objects like a vacuum and a Walkman so they would produce art. It was an experiment in generative design, which explores how algorithms and computers can create endless variations in outcomes. There's no rhyme or reason that controls the mechanics of these objects, so each piece of art will always be different.
Yang has done this to a handful of objects, including a food chopper, a wind-up clock, and an electric razor. Rather than creating new algorithms, the project explores the internal algorithms the objects already possess, building upon them to let the objects make something new. You can see all of the videos and the art created on Yang's website.
Images courtesy of Echo Yang
- Half of a bobbing chicken toy with a painted cotton swab attached to its back made this dotted burst of color.
- A Walkman spins to make delicate, ghostly circles.
- A vacuum cleaner created this design when filled with black calligraphy ink.
- A hand mixer attached with brush bristles and watercolors spins continuously without a pattern, painting feathery circles.
- An electric razor is filled with black ink and makes caterpillar-like blobs on a canvas.
- Pencil lead attached to a wind-up clock draws crazy patterns.