Great art has the capacity to transport viewers across the emotional spectrum. It can be revitalizing, devastating, beautiful, and terrifying. It can also be made by a hamster. The Hamster Powered Hamster Drawing Machine by Neil Mendoza is one such artistic rarity. Mendoza, whose previous creations include a magical hair creature and something called the Ponytron, has never shied from the experimental. In his latest work, a hamster running in a hamster wheel powers a complicated apparatus to draw, what else, a hamster running in a hamster wheel.
Silly as it may seem, constructing the contraption required an impressive amount of engineering and digital know-how. Mendoza generated vectors of the machine using openFrameworks and Box2D to precisely mill the two larger cams out of plywood. Using a Raspberry Pi and software written in openFrameworks, Mendoza transmitted the hamster onto an LED screen for a better viewing experience.
Hamsters are not the first animals to flex their artistic capabilities. And in the broader competition for non-human artistic supremacy, hamsters cannot yet rival Google’s DeepDream algorithms, an AI capable of creating entire art exhibitions and music collections. But a hamster is much cuter.