Maker Faire New York

This past Sunday I went to the 2010 Maker Faire New York up at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. The Hall of Science happens to be in one of the few remaining 1964 World’s Fair structures, but there will be more World’s Fair exploring in a following post. I have to thank my friend (and co-graphic novelist) Ashley for sending the Maker Faire tickets, especially so that I could see what I hope is my future mode of transportation: the riding lawnmower being consumed in the tentacles of a squid. When I am a wildly successful author of cephalopod fiction, you’ll see me cruising around rural Oklahoma in this.

As you might guess from its name, the Maker Faire is all about celebrating people who make things, whether it’s crafts, robots, or the flame-shooting, bicycle-powered contraption by the Madagascar Institute shown above. (The Madagascar Institute definitely got the most attention, and with plenty of noise and fire, I can’t really complain about that. Plus, they are based in Brooklyn. A lot of these photos I’m posting are of their creations.)

I was hoping for a little more of a science fair-vibe, and thought there were perhaps a few two many people just selling things or businesses promoting themselves. A notable exception was this dark room inside the Science Hall  that had wonderful light art and other luminous experiments. There was the Petit Mal light installation that I’d previously seen at Figment on Governors Island, as well as the interesting light nests shown above. One of the coolest things was a tube system that involved air pressure to move colored fluid. While the setup for the fair was small, there was a projection of a whole dress the artist had made with the tubes. Really awesome.

The New York Hall of Science itself is an extraordinary building. This picture does not do it justice. The main hall has all this blue glass up to the ceiling, and the sunlight shines through to create the effect of being in a futuristic cathedral.

There were two rockets outside of the museum: a Titan II and an Atlas rocket. Both were part of the space park at the 1964 World’s Fair. You can see the reproductions of the space capsules at the top.

Another World’s Fair relic on the grounds of the Maker Faire was this rocket ship statue (surrounded by Madagascar Institute contraptions). If you want to see more of all the awesome Space Age things at the World’s Fair, you should click here.

At one point, the entrance of the New York Hall of Science was crowded with costumed aliens, which were actually kind of terrifying, although the kids loved them. There was a talking dog wearing a suit would have been enough for me to want to leave the fair when I was young (I still don’t want him near me, his head was too small and his shoulders were slanted). It was kind of out of control.

Back outside, I saw that the Electric Chaircut guy who was at the 2009 Under the Bridge Festival. He was set up with his electric scissors connected to the amplifier on his back. The haircuts are free, provided you don’t mind being taped to the chair and then having your hair collected in a plastic bag for his collection. Parents were encouraging their kids to do it so they wouldn’t have to pay for haircuts…that could be traumatizing.

Every once in a while, it would suddenly sound like an airplane was taking off, but it was the Madagascar Institute again, this time with the Jet Ponies. They were in fact powered by jet engines and flew around in a circle. (Correction: powered by valveless pulse jets! Thanks to a commenter for having more knowledge than me. Must be a better factchecker.) Yes, there were flames as well.

If I could give a suggestion for the next Maker Faire organizers, it would be to have coffee, somewhere, please. What kind of event devoted to people who are likely insomniacs doesn’t have large quantities of coffee? This is a really minor complaint, I guess. However, it was awesome that the Red Hook and Brooklyn Flea food vendors were there. And this robot that appeared to be drawn in blood wanted me to buy beer.

From the Maker Faire, we walked over to the Unisphere and the Queens Art Museum, which I’ll cover in the next post. So look forward to more World’s Fair nostalgia! I have a bit of an obsession with World’s Fairs. Why can’t I ever just like something and not become totally obsessed?

5 thoughts on “Maker Faire New York

  1. m says:

    I wish i could take pictures like you do!!

  2. lmccosh says:

    The ponies are powered by valveless pulse jets…nothing to do with airplanes except noise.

  3. Allie says:

    Makes sense! I obviously didn’t research this enough. Will edit to be more accurate! Thanks! Obviously my “this sounds like an airplane…must be an airplane” logic is flawed.

  4. lmccosh says:

    Hi Allie, I am with Madagascar Institute. We are trying to put together some promotional material. Can we use your photos? ..and on a secondary note if a magazine requests photos to publish should we include yours?


  5. Allie says:

    Hi Lindsay,

    I replied to your email! Thanks for getting in touch. As I said there, you are welcome to use the pictures.

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