The Secret Life of Tim Hunkin's Personal Novelty Arcade
February 6, 2015 4:56 AM   Subscribe

"I know I cannot be the only one who still has a cardboard file of copies of Tim Hunkin’s genius cartoon strip, ’The Rudiments of Wisdom’ (previously), clipped weekly from the Observer and cherished through all these years. So I hope you will appreciate my excitement when Tim invited me over to Bloomsbury last Sunday to photograph the arrival of his automata and slot machines, prior to next week’s opening of Novelty Automation, his personal amusement arcade." There, "Londoners will be able to practice money-laundering, witness a total eclipse, lose weight, get frisked, get divorced, get chiropody and – of course – operate a nuclear reactor." Delightful! Hunkin, previously.
posted by MonkeyToes (11 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
That looks great! I'm going to have to make a pilgrimage to Novelty Automation.
posted by yankeefog at 5:23 AM on February 6, 2015

Oh dear, he looks so old... but age cannot wither him, nor custom stale his infinite variety, luckily.
posted by Segundus at 5:25 AM on February 6, 2015

These are fantastic. I only knew him in America from the imported "The Secret Life Of Machines". Love seeing more of his creations!
posted by nickggully at 6:22 AM on February 6, 2015

I visited the Cabaret Mechanical Theater decades ago when it was in Covent Garden, and I've been following Tim Hunkin and Paul Spooner and the mechanical gang ever since. I hope I can visit this!
posted by moonmilk at 6:35 AM on February 6, 2015

When my girlfriend (now wife) and I first moved in together, we discovered we both owned a dog-eared copy of Almost Everything There Is To Know. I'd never heard of the Rudiments Of Wisdom as a kid, but loved that book (an encyclopaedia of the collected cartoons) to death. Both copies remain on our shelf for our kids to discover in a few years.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:41 AM on February 6, 2015

Is there an online database / catalogue of these kinds of machines? Or a book?
posted by Theta States at 8:18 AM on February 6, 2015

I was rewatching The Secret Life Of Machines recently. and they're fantastic. It's sad that so many of them - TV, videorecorder, radio, telephone, fax machine - could only be done now by popping the back off a smartphone and staring dumbly at a chip. The videorecorder especially is a stupendous mix of precision mechanical engineering and electronics, considering its cost and reliability - it may be the most advanced consumer dinosaur of the 20th century.

i periodically furrow the brow and try and work out how to do programmes like this for software, but apart from cutesy animation ("Here's Charlie Codec! Watch him look at the picture with his magnifying glass!") nothing remotely attractive has ever suggested itself.

(I _am_ up for scripting and narrating an animated Secret Life Of Software, if anyone fancies a MeFi Project....)
posted by Devonian at 9:57 AM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I remember going to the York automata museum several aeons ago just to look at his work in the flesh (as it were); I’m looking forward to visiting this new endeavour.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 11:39 AM on February 6, 2015

oh boy I love tim hunkin. I am pretty sure if I ever end up with a welding rig it is gonna be thanks to his youtube video where he declares "it is just like hot glue but with metal". If I was still in the UK I would buy my train tickets to london immediately.

thanks for the link to his book, I am def gonna get a copy of that.
posted by jonbro at 12:31 PM on February 6, 2015

I organized a stag party in Southwold once where the second attraction was Tim Hunkin's's coin operated delights. It is exactly the right thing to put on a crumbling Victorian pleasure pier. Zimmer frame based mechanical Frogger was a particular highlight.

The first attraction was a distillery by the way. Southwold has it all
posted by doiheartwentyone at 1:21 PM on February 6, 2015

I loved The Secret Life of Machines - one of the best things to come out of British TV. If you ever make it to the Science Museum, there is a similar thing in the basement about the secret life of the house.
posted by adrianhon at 3:05 PM on February 6, 2015

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