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Skinned Furbies And Badger Theremins: The Bizarre Mechanical Art of David Cranmer

Inventor and artist David Cranmer uses the most unlikely of materials to create electronic music instruments and mechanical sculptures.

The saccharine drenched days of childhood entertainment co-opted into pop culture riffs has long been a favorite of YouTube's time suck vortex, giving rise to such viral phenomena as ‘dubtrot’ (My Little Pony mixed with dubstep) and the choreographed gyrations of the animatronic band, Rock-afire Explosion, pop-locking to Usher and Huey.

Offering his own cheeky take, British artist and inventor David Cranmer creates a showcase of mechanical species that features such wonders as the Furby Gurdy; an organ grinder made up of the gibbering toy sensation that entertained both kids and hackers alike in its heyday. Cranmer humorously details the creation process through a series of photos that reveal a Furby skinning knife menacingly placed next to discarded pelts. Ouch.


The Furby Gurdy

Masterfully combining unlikely parts, Cranmer's designs are both ingeniously executed and injected with wit. The Monster Telephone, an audio installation for The Hoxton Street Monster Supplies center, offers down and out monsters hotline advice. The Gnome Machine bobs the iconic lawn ornament up and down; complete with a dial that allows you to amp up both the speed and whimsy.

The Gnome Machine

Fueling his inspiration, many of Cranmer's creations are commissioned, resulting in everything from The Velotone, a retrofitted bicycle outfitted with a sequencer for the bike-conscious event group, Cities in the Dark, to a vinyl sculpture by artist, Pete Fowler, turned beatbox.

Cranmer's modification fascination also goes beyond the transformation of widgets. Cranmer crafts and sells analogue ring modulator effects boxes that enable humans to conjure their inner Dälek while connected to a synth or drum machine to create a roboticized voice.

Brian the Penguin

Cranmer's recent invention is The Badgermin, which is—you guessed it—a hybrid that is equal parts theremin and taxidermy badger. While at an installation of theremins at the Royal Festival Hall Ether festival (an event that later debuted Cranmer’s percussive, chainsaw powered penguin-bot), Cranmer was inspired by a conversation with a friend. Cranmer reflects, "My friend asked me what casing I would build my ideal theremin into. I replied, 'Probably a traditional oak case, or maybe a badger.’ Eventually, it seemed the badger was the better choice."

Cranmer's work is currently on display and for sale at The Mechanical Art and Design Museum in London.

Programmable Musical Pig