The Unbearable Banishment: Cooler than the pyramids

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cooler than the pyramids

This is the coolest thing ever. It's cooler than the pyramids. Do you guys know what the Art-O-Mat is? They've taken old cigarette vending machines and instead of tossing them onto the landfill on Staten Island, they've re-purposed them to dispense tiny original works of art. It's ingenious! There's only one in New York Cityat the Whitneybut my hotel in Las Vegas had FOUR of them. Each piece of art is only $5 measly bucks. Well worth it. I've spent more and have gotten a lot less in return.

Above each knob, where the cigarette brand logo was once displayed, is the name of the artist and a brief few-word description of the art. You really have no idea what you're getting. You feed a sawbuck into the machine and pull the knob out which, for an oldster like myself, is a thrilling trip down memory lane and presto! Your art is dispensed below.

Approximately 400 artists have been commissioned to create works of art that fit into small white boxes the same size as a pack of cigarettes. 

Some artists decorate the outside of the boxes.

This box from Monica Wu contained an original linocut print of a flower wrapped in tissue paper. A linocut is what I used for the cover of my Thunder Road chapbook, so I was all over this one.

Alexandra Lee made a pin out of a Scrabble tile (the letter B on the verso) depicting a cityscape and also included a bonus paper crane. 

This is Barcode Oprah Winfrey by Scott Blake. It's a flip book. It starts with Oprah's big, stupid face and as it gets closer, you see that it's made entirely of ISBN barcodes. The barcodes are taken from the books that have been recommended by Oprah's Book Club (the titles of which are listed on the verso pages.) $5 bucks, people! More barcode art here.

Art-O-Mat! Look for one near you.

*     *     *

Me + a wizard


Anonymous daisyfae said...

Now we know how you spent your gambling winnings!

i have an artist friend who did something similar with a gumball machine. fitting tiny hand-crafted bits of art into the plastic bubble. sold for $1.

she said it was hard to make something that small and break eevn. not counting the labor. i like the $5 idea and the cigarette pack...

May 24, 2012 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

These works look like labors (labours, for our British friends) of love. I can't imagine anyone made a profit. The package contains contact information and URLs to the artist's site. Perhaps the intention is to drum up more business? They're loss leaders.

May 24, 2012 at 5:50 PM  
Blogger Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 24, 2012 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

Sorry, just delete my previous cooment, blooger did something strange and put the text in a strange order.

It must be love. I can't see anyone actually making money out of this, not unless they started mass producing them, which would then defeat the purpose.

I just love the Oprah Winfrey flip book. That I would pay folding money for.

Oprah's Book Club?

I din't know that Oprah could read.

I like the wizard. Can he make Oprah disappear?

May 24, 2012 at 8:39 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Oprah got a lot of people to pick up a book and read via her book club. You have to give her that. But I still don't like her. She has a messiah complex. She's so powerful that she could probably make the wizard disappear.

May 24, 2012 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger savannah said...

i LOVE those art-vend-omatics! i haven't seen one hee, but i'm guessing there's probably one up in ATL! but more importantly,


mad jealous here, sugarpie!! xoxoxoxo

May 24, 2012 at 11:28 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

There's one in ATL and one in Lookout Mountain, whereverthehell that is. We met Teller, too! After the show. We weren't going to do the cliche big-Vegas-magic-spetacular but it was a great show. Lots of fun.

May 25, 2012 at 5:38 AM  
Blogger Kono said...

This is an idea that i fully support, brilliant, just like that bloke you're standing next to in the picture, Penn and Teller's Bullshit is one of the best shows ever put on the wasteland of the tube.

May 25, 2012 at 8:43 AM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

want want want

May 27, 2012 at 4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always heard of these machines but I've never seen one! Thanks for posting this!!

May 27, 2012 at 6:40 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

This is such a splendind idea -it must have legs. If only it could make theartista a few bob also.

May 28, 2012 at 6:27 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Saw Pen & Teller with some hesitation but was very glad I did. A really fun night out. They made a point of saying they don't use audience plants, which is something discussed on Bullshit.

May 28, 2012 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

need need need

May 28, 2012 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

I'm almost positive there's one where you're going. Check the web site.

May 28, 2012 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

The "about us" backstory on their site is pretty amusing. It started with just one machine. Now there are dozens. Here's ONE American idea I would t mind exporting. It would make up for McDonals's.

May 28, 2012 at 10:29 AM  
Anonymous dinahmow said...

You get to see the most amazing things sometimes. Then, even better, you write about them for us!
I have a tiny book in a plastic (pills?) capsule, made by a friend in CA.It's one of the Flickr pics on my sidebar.

May 29, 2012 at 1:59 AM  
Blogger JZ said...

Ha! I THOUGHT A-o-M's were a NC original! I think I purveyed one of the first ones way back in the day (looks like they moved it out of the Whole Foods however...and now it's installed at a project my firm completed in Cary this past year. Yes, there are about 16 people in the culture industry down here in Nawth Cackacky).

Thanks for the reminder. Gonna see if our executive director at the gallery would want to have one up front....

May 29, 2012 at 6:31 AM  
Blogger Pearl said...

I love it!

I would easily drop a couple fives into the Art-o-Mat. Hmmm. Wonder if Mpls has them...


May 29, 2012 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

dinah: You do a pretty good job of keeping us abreast with book arts and travel and whatnot. It's reciprocal.

JZ: Yes, these were born down there. A great story on their "about" page. Would love to see these go global. I I know I'm being redundant but...$5 BUCKS!

Pearl: I checked for you. They can be found here:

Minneapolis - CHAMBERS, The Luxury Art Hotel of
 - Boynton Health Service

Do you know them?

May 29, 2012 at 9:13 AM  

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