In the fall of 2012 Jean Byrne from the
Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
invited me to do a foals performance as part of the
Festival. We decided to do a workshop and performance called
Monsters: A Workshop and Happening in the giant
Chinese Rotunda. The workshop was similar to the one we
did at MoMA, but we did a bit more pre-fab work (with some great Philly
volunteers!) so that the foals were easier to put together.
At the end of the workshop we began kidnapping foals from their
makers and tying them to one another in two long rows. We then started them
on a forced march towards the grand staircase that takes you down a flight
of stairs and out to a lovely garden. Audience members with pitch pipes
played long tones that reverberated in the enormous dome. Everyone
helped keep the herd moving in the right direction as they headed towards
The crowd grew quiet as the foals neared the staircase. It seemed that people
hadn't quite realized what was about to happen. As the first foal went over
the stairs the crowd let out a gasp and some kids started crying. Their poor
foals! More foals went over the edge and it turned into a ghastly pileup
of pathetic creatures. Suddenly we started shouting "Set free the foals!"
and everyone rushed to the stairs and started rescuing their foals. We then
headed out to the garden where foal frolicking commenced. All foals survived
the ordeal intact.
And there are pics from the museum's Flickr stream over there somewhere -->
Thanks to Jean Byrne and everyone at the Penn Museum and all of our volunteers
In the fall of 2009 I collaborated with Machine Project to do a foal building workshop and
performance as part of the
"Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity" exhibit at the MoMA.
We asked poet Joshua Beckman
to write a traditional ceremonial foal poem to launch the foals out into the world, and invited
Wet Ink Ensemble to put together an improvised
musical score to accompany them on their journey.
The foal design for the MoMA event was the simplest yet -- just a few pieces of scrap wood
(donated by the MoMA woodshop), aluminum motor mount and shaft collar, steel crank shaft and
leg drivers, a few bolts and screws, a 12v battery, some string, and plastic feet made from
soda bottles. Workshop attendees cut the wood to size and drilled the holes, then assembled
foals from pre-fabbed kits of the other materials. About fifteen people made thirty three foals
in just four hours.
After the performance the foals were offered for adoption, and they all found loving new homes
in just a few minutes.
Machine Project friend Gail Swanlund designed this awesome poster:
Super thanks to
Arturo Vidich, who was a superhero helper on the fabrication and organization
of the workshop. Thanks also to all of the workshop participants and volunteers, and to Wet Ink
Ensemble and Joshua Beckman for their wonderful contributions! Joshua was sick with the swine flu
the evening of the performance, so his mysterious friend Anthony read in his stead. Thanks, Anthony!
Two foals were included in the summer 2009 "Shared Robotics" show at
RoboDays at the Brandts Museum in Odense, Denmark.
Some cute video of them walking, over there somewhere -->>
America's premier foal army gallops triumphantly* across the BP Grand Entrance, celebrating 101
years as "America's Favorite Fighting Foals".
*due to recent budget cuts, miniature, underpowered foals may teeter, limp and/or struggle.
We spent the day at LACMA building simplified (using only one motor and a crankshaft, instead of
the four motors in the original) foals with lots of nice visitors. We had a basic foal plan,
and everyone was invited to start with that plan (or not) and build away! In the end we made six
working/walking foals. A small, but potent, army.
In the spring of 2007 Make Magazine invited me to bring the foal to their
Maker Faire in San Mateo. My friends/wackos from
were there as well, and they were kind enough to share their space with me and
the foal. Since the foal was already built and could happily wander around the expo hall on
its own (sort of), I thought it'd be fun to spend some time building a little friend for the foal with help from
Maker Faire attendees. So I spent most of my time at the faire sitting at a table building
a flying birdhouse with parts that people brought to me. I had a piece of paper on the table
with a list of materials that I was hoping to use. People brought me those and other neat things
as well, and by the end of the faire we had a nice friend for the foal!
Pics & video of the foal and little bird friend at the Maker Faire over there somewhere -->
When the organizers of
Festival Rümlingen 2005 asked me to bring the
horse table to
Switzerland, I decided instead to build a new version of the table, this time in the form of an
awkward foal. The foal knows even less about the world than its parent, and
spends most of its time blindly moving its legs every which way in a largely futile effort to
explore the world. It's not easy being a walking table, but the little foal is doing its best!