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Giant Painting Machine
(Milano)

mylar, ink, motors, wood,
mounting hardware, electronics
(2006)




Giant Painting Machine (Milano) is a simple electro-mechanical system built largely from found parts and scrap materials. It paints complex and dynamic abstract images on four transparent walls by tracing continuous, cycling paths across large sheets of clear mylar. Because GPM is a wiggly mechanical device, the nature of its brush strokes is constantly changing, and its conceptually smooth, arcing lines are full of smudges, drips, and wobbles.

Simple switches and a DC motor controller guide the paintbrush across the canvas. The path of the brush is determined by the relationship of the dimensions of the canvas to the speeds of the motors. The speeds of the motors constantly ramp up and down, resulting in curved, rather than straight, lines.

The brushes are filled with acrylic inks in various colors. Mixing decisions are made on the fly, with each wall focused on a certain color.

GPM was first commissioned for a large jewelry fair. We installed four hand-shaped metal detectors that could be used to influence the paths of the paint brushes. When metal jewelry was placed on one of the hands, the corresponding brush changed direction.

The generative sound for GPM was created with a customized, self-modifying version of Larry Polansky's Anna's Music Box software.



Giant Painting Machine (Milano) was commissioned by MUR and the MORE Jewelry Fair in Milan, Italy. It ran eight hours a day for four days during Fashion Week 2006.

Thanks to the MORE International Jewelry Fair and Manuela, Marco, and Federico from MUR for their support and encouragement. Thanks to Larry Polansky for Anna's Music Box, and to Charles DeTar help modifying the software for GPM. Special thanks to Isami Ching for his tremendous design and fabrication skills, and to Isami and Amy Benson for their inexhaustible patience and energy during the loooong installation process.


video: small (4.6MB)
medium (13.8MB)
large (48.1MB)


timelapse video
of setup (4.4MB)


MUR's documentation site


Douglas and Isami's photos

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