This story is over 5 years old.


Repurposing Obsolete Wind-Up Toys As Quirky, Art-Making Robots

These obsolete devices are having their own "Brave Little Toaster" moment.
March 4, 2014, 6:50pm
Images via

"I remember the first time my bulb burned out. I thought, 'That's it! I'm burnt out! Eighty-sixed!' [...] And then the master gave me a brand new bulb... and I just glowed." - Lampy, The Brave Little Toaster

Former Design Academy Eindhoven student Echo Yang is having his "master" moment, breathing new life into a few lucky old gadgets. As part of his Autonomous Machines Project, the recent I-D grad has eschewed contemporary solder-and-code methods of producing generative artworks, opting instead to repurpose phased-out analog technologies into art-creating robots.

Take the hand-mixer, for instance. Once a boon for any homemaker who wanted whipped cream peaks without a week's worth of whisking, the cord-powered technology now only resides in the cupboards of the most tennis-elbow weathered weekend warriors. But with the addition of some paintbrush bristles and watercolor paint, Echo Yang has the time-worn technology whipping up sumi-e Zen circles with the push of an old plastic button.

The rest of the results are just as revitalizing: wind-up toys making pointilist spin art, vacuum-cleaner splatter painters, and electric shavers pretty much recreating your standard Photoshop paintbrush. It's an experiment we can all take notes from, especially since piles of e-waste have been growing since the Industrial Revolution.

Check out more of Echo Yang's work via Cargo, and see if you can't come up with any more uses for this newly-old, but now, officially newly-new technology.