Giant Atari Joystick!

Commissioned by Jon Gibson for the i am 8 bit art show in LA, this is exactly what you think it is: a big, 15x scale, working Atari joystick! I had cabinetmaker Dan Fill help me with the cutting of the big pieces and some of the assembly, and the electronics are really embarassingly crude. But, then again, so is the real one. It’s pretty much five switches made from screws and aluminum flashing, bungie cord springing, and a golf ball as a pivot.

But it’s fun! And very, very ungainly. And people tend to climb all over it and beat the crap out of it.

If, for some reason, you’d like to a copy of the plans I used to make the stick, enjoy.

Also, here’s a link to the Make: magazine article about the joystick, and there’s other articles about it out there, too.

And, even more exciting, I got interviewed about it by the great Mark Frauenfelder over at BoingBoingTV:


Ulak-Tartysh, also known as Buzakshi, is a sport played in Kyrgyzstan that is best described as polo, but instead of a ball, a decapitated goat carcass. It’s also the name and subject of an arcade game I made, and passed off as genuine as part of a hoax.

It was made for the i am 8 bit show in 2008, and the story was that it was a genuine, Kyrgyz video game built in 1983; I even included a dummy circuit board inside with Soviet-bloc named chips. I had an absurd story about trying to import a Polski-Fiat and ending up with this. More details here and here.

The game is totally playable with one or two players, and was designed to fit 80s-era and Soviet bloc technological limitations, with all custom cabinet art, marquee, controls, etc.

Collaboration with Kerry Tribe: Dead Star Light

I worked with the amazing artist Kerry Tribe on two pieces for her solo show at the Arnolfini museum in Bristol, UK. We developed the concept and executed both projects together, Milton Torres Sees a Ghost and The Last Soviet.

For Milton Torres Sees a Ghost we designed a system using two reel-to-reel decks and a massive loop of tape. An interview with Milton Torres, an American RAF pilot who saw a UFO, is recoreded and played on one deck then travels over 200 feet to another deck, which erases and plays the erased feed. Each deck has an oscilloscope to display the audio visually. Using rollers (made with the rapid-prototyping and electronics help of Pylon Technical) the long loop of tape is run along the walls of the gallery, making a very engaging sculptural and kinetic piece. There’s lots more info here on Kerry Tribe’s site.



For The Last Soviet, I built a 1/12th scale model of the interior of the Mir base block for use in a short film about Sergei Krikalev and his stay on the Mir during the last days of the Soviet Union.

The model was built into a rig, mounted on an engine hoist, and then filled with mineral oil to give the illusion of microgravity, while allowing the functioning of electronic devices (LCD screens, lights, etc) inside the model. The film is shown on a loop in the gallery. I also did a lot of analog video distortion effects using, among other things, a DVD player, an old Apple II, cables, and a glass of water. Again, more info is on Kerry’s site.

Film stills from The Last Soviet

The Death of Analog TV: A Talk at Machine Project

I’ve done a number of things with Machine Project; this one was a talk I gave on the last day of analog TV programming in the US; I did my talk about the precursor to that, the wonderfully bizzarre mechanical television. Here’s a video:


Jason talks about Mechanical TV on the Last Day of Analog TV from machine project on Vimeo.


Here’s a bunch of book-related stuff, all crammed together:


First off, my book I wrote with Carrie McLaren, Ad Nauseam. I co-edited, wrote parts, did the illustrations, and the cover. If you get one consumer’s guide to American consumer culture, make it this one.

For Sean Carroll’s excellent From Eternity to Here, I did illustrations. Illustrations of arrows of time, demons, kaons, and the universe. Usual stuff.

Sean Carroll’s wife, Jennifer Ouelette, is a science writer as well, and I did the illustrations for her new book, The Calculus Diaries. There’s a good zombie illustration in there!

Okay, for Rajiv Joseph’s Animals Out Of Paper, all I did was the cover. But it’s the most I’ve had to do with anything that’s gotten a Pulitzer.

Make:Way Race Team, 24 Hours of Lemons

Incredibly, the nice folks over at Make: magazine sponsored me and a crack team in fielding a sub $500 racecar in the great 24 Hours of Lemons, the world’s finest motorsport for crapboxes costing under $500. We did far better than anyone thought we had any right to. It was a blast.

A Machine Project Field Guide to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

I was lucky enough to participate in Machine Project‘s takeover of LACMA. I had two pieces: the Hydropticonium (pictured above, click the image for an iffy papercraft version you can make), a zoetrope powered by the LACMA’s fountains, and the Peeping Netsuke (pictured below) which was an apparatus that made a giant netsuke peep in a window. Just like you’d think. Click the image for a video:

Nerdcore Calendar Robot Gun-Arm

Another Jon Gibson commission, I made the cybernetic dyna-invigorator imparalator arm prosthetic worn by the lovely model here. This was for the 2008 Nerdcore calendar.

pew pew pew



I’ve been building a bunch of robots lately, too. They light up, move, or worry. Some even loiter, wait, or consider things. One can see into the future, but I wasn’t able to make any way of usable output.


Various Robots