Rube Goldberg machine, a machine where you perform a series of complex tasks to have a simple end result. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting The Jabberwocky, a nonsensical poem by Lewis Carroll. Does that mean I can make something that doesn’t seem right to go along with the theme? Hahahaha
Here is a visual interpretation of the poem. I split the poem up by stanzas and tried to emulate each scene that appears by picking up certain key words and phrases.
Beginning from the head, we have a curved slope. Simplified, the first/last stanza really just says “it’s 4 p.m. and things go round”. Hence I start and end off the machine with the metal ball going around.
Next is the warnings, followed by the description of the claws that catch. I created a sudden fall of the ball to show the immediate danger of the motion, and made a small claw on the second platform to emulate the “catch that catches”. In the third stanza, the vorpal blade comes into play. In the poem the vorpal blade is the key item which slays the Jabberwock, so I wanted it to stand out and appear soon. The vorpal blade here is a spinning fan with razor blades attached to it. It was intended to create the mysterious design and the ability to cut, which was an intended feature later in the project. Initial prototype involved the falling ball to flick off a cap which held the blades. Apparently if the fan is turned on, but you have a cap loosely put in place, the blades will not spin, so I could create a delayed activation of the blades. Certainly it seems dangerous playing with spinning blades, but I was pretty careful when handling and testing it, so I made a blade that has the cutting ability, yet stable enough to not fly off and injure someone. After the mention of the blade, the poem describes searching for the Jabberwock, hence I placed a curvy path that goes left and right to emulate the search, followed by a short fall to show a break in motion in the X and Y axis – before the Jabberwock shows up.
The dominos in play hide the face of the Jabberwock. It will only be apparent when they have fallen, thus creating the illusion that the Jabberwock finally “appears”. The final piece of the domino will hit a contraption, a band that holds the vorpal blade in place. Upon so, the blade will fall towards the Jabberwock, which is held up by simply a single thread. The Jabberwock will collapse and fall towards the ground, hitting the second ball below it, bring it into a curved path and to the end. The domino pieces which represents the head of the Jabberwock will also fall into the “home” as shown in the fifth stanza where the head was brought back.
A look at the final outcome as the Jabberwock collapses and the head falls.
Considerations: using materials such as wire to build the frame. The design was revised several times, previous models had trees and such in the scene the Jabberwock appears. While they look nice, I felt that they spoiled the immersion of the dream world that Alice (from Wonderland) enters. I decided to go with a minimalist approach and cut down things that make the work messier, and even the slopes the ball falls into paths made of only wire. I could have used cut paper rolls (which was much cheaper and easier to use) as shown in the above photo but I wanted to preserve the airy dreamlike sequence hence decided not to. Suspending the second platform in the air and actually having the ball flow took alot of work, but it works (mostly). The other easy path I cut was to have the ball move left and right only with a wall to support everything. Since it was a 3d project, I wanted to play with space and have the ball move in both the X and Y axis as it drops via the Z axis while it moves, hence the structure is formed as it looks like now.
I had quite a bit of fun during this project. It was interesting to see what I could do with a three dimensional space within a frame, and what I could do by starting simply with a metal ball. The theme of Jabberwock was also interesting as there were many ways to approach it; if I was given the same assignment again with the same theme, the final outcome will probably look different altogether.