As the calendar clicks over to December, the less prepared among us (Exhibit A: me) are just getting an inkling that maybe they should start shopping for the gift-giving portion of their winter festival of choice. Happily, you and I now have it covered! — Thanks to a hilarious artwork called “Fish Hammer,” originated by UK artist Neil Mendoza, as a cheeky commentary on human-fish relations.
As an Autodesk Artist in Residence at San Francisco’s Pier 9, Mendoza used the design and fabrication software to build an apparatus for a goldfish he named “Smashie.” Smashie lives in a cylindrical tank, and is tracked by a motion-detecting camera. The camera maps the direction of Smashie’s aimless swimming onto a hammer mounted on an aluminium track in front of the tank. The hammer pivots as Smashie moves, while a cam randomly drops the head of the hammer on a doll-house-sized human habitat arranged underneath it. (See video of the art in action here)
The artwork represents a union of technology and nature but also exists as a tiny, Twilight-Zone-like alternate universe where fish are empowered to destroy human habitats the way that we do theirs. Mendoza’s body of work generally treads this fascinating line between funny and scary, or the familiar and uncanny — like his “Electric Knife Orchestra” or “Rock Band”.
Neatest of all, Mendoza has released the building instructions for “Fish Hammer” for public use! The process does require some specialized equipment, like Autodesk Inventor, and oh, whichever old waterjet cutter you’ve got kicking around, but it’s still within the realm of possibility. So, my gift list is done: Laminated Instructables, and Home Depot and Big Al’s Aquarium gift certificates for all. Have fun!