Tag Archives: Achim Stiermann

Rube Goldberg machines

Are you also a great lover of nonsense machines as I am? Then, especially when you are Dutch (I am not), you already might know this piece that made it through the blogging scene some time ago called Melvin The Magical Mixed Media Machine by design team HeyHeyHey:

Machines misusing (not only, but mainly) objects for the simple purpose of creating a complex chain reaction are called Rube Goldberg machines.


Rube Goldberg machines are a huge playground for children, artists, engineers, for simply everybody, because they are not limited to any technical or pysical knowledge. Fascination lies not that much in a conceptual idea behind it or the outcome but rather in functionality itself.  The journey is the reward! Still, quiescent objects start to move, they interact with each other, jump, nudge each other, start to come alive and perform human actions. The beholder starts to tremble: although it concerns a machine, an organism of perfection, the whole chain reaction depends more or less on a chain of coincidences, non controllable courses of actions that don’t garant success.

One of the mos famous contributions by artists as to Rube Goldberg machines is a piece called Der Lauf der Dinge (The way things go) by Swiss artist duo Fischli and Weiss made in 1987. It was set up in warehouse with a length of more than 30 metres:

David Weiss said in an interview by Frieze Magazine:

We were sitting in a bar somewhere and playing around with the things on the table, and we thought to ourselves, this energy of never-ending collapse – because our construction stood for a moment and then collapsed before we built it up again – should be harnessed and channelled in a particular direction.

This is another installation I saw in a small gallery space in Augsburg/Germany, a machine made of straws by Achim Stiermann:

Another of Achim Stiermann’s work called Light Gravity Machine:

Not only the big grown-ups can do so. Every year the MIT Museum hosts an event called Friday after Thanksgiving to build a huge Rube Goldberg machine out of loads of small ones built by kids, engineers, families, creatives…: (sorry, somehow embedding doesn’t work here)


Can’t get enough? Watch the OK Go music video: