The Dismal Time Machine – Medway Fun Palace 2015 – How It Was Made and Why

The Medway Fun Palace took place on the 3rd of October at Nucleus Arts in Chatham. After a lot of thought about what I might be able to contribute, I decided that with the impending Back To The Future II date in mind ( 21st of October 2015) I would create a Time Machine.

You see the problem already don’t you? For many weeks I was not quite sure how this was going to work. But I knew I would need a lot of boxes, due to the lack of a flux capacitor. In one of the Fun Palace meetings we spoke about lighting, a smoke machine, audio…within some type of large card box! 

Then one day, as I walked past a local greengrocers, I discovered tomato boxes. They are strong and they stack, and I have hot glue! What more could I need? Ah yes a helping hand!

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The boxes piled up in the Nucleus office!

Queue some workshops! Thank you to Stephen Bartholomew and family, Laura Fisher and family, Debbie Crow and Ben Boardman for supporting this crazy idea. Also Nucleus Arts for supporting the Time Machine project by providing space!

I soon realised that there was something missing as the machine started to take shape. It was lacking some comedy based around the fact the machine was made of tomato boxes. Then I realised, here was a strong connection to the absolutely incredible Dismaland, which I had been to within the first 3 days of opening may I add because…I am impatient. I started to plan how I could include an edge of Dismal to the experience for those who hadn’t made it to the real thing. I was so pleased when Esther agreed to be my fellow miserable colleague, to open the Time Machine to visitors.

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One of the installations at Dismaland – by Paul Insect

The machine took around 10 hours to finish, there was (did I mention?) tomato boxes, packing tape, gaffa tape and a lot of hot glue holding the machine together! We probably used around 100 small sticks of hot glue!

Once the ceiling had been secured, which mainly meant flat cardboard being securely taped to the box walls, the machine was surprisingly strong! This really is a great way to build an art installation.

Time Machine frame complete!
Time Machine frame complete!

We covered the inside of the machine with VHS tapes and weird vintage photographs, one was of a woman, Florence Priscilla, on an electric scooter in 1916.

Florence Priscilla
Florence Priscilla

I just had to make some finishing touches on the Saturday morning, get the fog machine going, and most importantly play the Power Of Love by Huey Lewis & The News and the Back To The Future Theme on a loop (I didn’t once get sick of it!). 

Someone brought their own mini installation of vicious, dangerous My Little Pony models, which were displayed to a backing track of “Only The Horses” By Scissor Sisters.

As our willing tourists came in they were handed an old Nokia mobile and given instructions to have a good time, but not too much of a good time. They walked through the machine to then be “greeted” by my assistant who told them there was a range of activities including climbing through a box, that went to no where, or taking a photo in the selfie hole.

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She explained though whatever they chose not to tell her as she didn’t really care. Anyone who touched the My Little Pony models were firmly told to not touch them as they were wild savage beasts. 

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They then got a text saying ” Now Get Out”.

Now I can’t really explain why…but we have over 100 people come through the Time Machine, some people even came back a second time. So that makes this my most successful exhibition yet. I didn’t have to smile once, which was great as I was ill. Unfortunately I couldn’t help but laugh quite a few times due to my assistants amazing improvisation, which at one point consisted of her telling visitors what happened to the last person that touched the ponies. She also told people to keep moving through the machine otherwise there won’t be a future for them to go to.

The entrance!
The entrance!
Inside the Time Machine
Inside the Time Machine

It really was a great day, we confused a lot of people, one lady left before she even went in (see, ‘actual’ time travel) one child cried. Definitely a success.

By Natasha Steer

natasha@creatabot.co.uk


On October the 3rd and 4th 2015 Fun Palaces took place across the UK. Fun Palaces are about creating and making together: they are a space where arts and sciences, fun and learning meet, working alongside and working together. See www.funpalaces.co.uk for more information. 

Free Fun Palaces Workshop – 23rd July 2015 – Chatham

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Culture belongs to us all! Find out how anyone anywhere can make a Fun Palace, where everyone is an artist and everyone a scientist. Change the world with radical fun!

FUN PALACES AND NUCLEUS ARTS

Invite you to the Fun Palaces Workshop

23rd July, 6:30pm-9:30pm, Nucleus Arts Centre, 272 High Street, Chatham, Kent

Free, but please book your place here as space is limited: http://fpworkshopskent.eventbrite.co.uk

THE FUN PALACES MANIFESTO

WE BELIEVE IN THE GENIUS IN EVERYONE, IN EVERYONE AN ARTIST AND EVERYONE A SCIENTIST, AND THAT ARTS AND SCIENCES CAN CHANGE THE WORLD FOR THE BETTER.
WE BELIEVE WE CAN DO THIS TOGETHER, LOCALLY, WITH RADICAL FUN – AND THAT ANYONE, ANYWHERE, CAN MAKE A FUN PALACE.

Fun Palaces is an ongoing campaign for culture at the heart of community, with an annual weekend of simultaneous events every October. In 2015 the dates are the 3rd and 4th of October. Around the country, local people will be gathering to make and share arts, sciences, learning, games and FUN – this workshop is your chance to find out more and share the skills needed to make it all happen. You don’t need to be an expert to make a Fun Palace (and experts are allowed to make Fun Palaces too, if they want), and your Fun Palace can be as tiny or huge as you like.

Are you are interested in taking part, finding out what your neighbourhood is capable of, and sharing skills, knowledge and of course, fun? Then come along to find out more.

Don’t worry, by coming to the workshop you will not be signing up to anything, and taking part in Fun Palaces is always free.

2014 was Fun Palaces’ pilot year, and 130 free, local and very exciting Fun Palaces were created across the country (with 8 in other countries too). 3183 people took part in making a Fun Palace happen, and 40,000 took part over the weekend. Fun Palaces were made by big institutions small organisations, and groups of neighbours who had never done anything like it before.

You can find out more on our website: funpalaces.co.uk/ Or watch this four-minute video to find out what happened at Fun Palaces 2014: https://vimeo.com/107262132

Any questions? Prefer to book by phone? Get in touch! E-mail kirsty@funpalaces.co.uk or ring 0208 692 4446 ext. 203 and leave a message

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