Thursday, January 19, 2017


Adelaide’s annual international cycling event, the Tour Down Under, regularly provides me with the chance to play with my parallel passions of creativity and cycling. I developed my Pedal Powered Percussion Contraption as a contribution towards a stage finish event and I see it as the beginning of a suite of similar outcomes and potentials. 

Bike Powered Percussion Contraption from James Dodd on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


I arrived at the point of developing my own noise making contraption somewhat organically, via a series of related pedally projects that became noisey and invited discussions of pursuing outcomes that are specifically noisey.  As is often the case, I am curious about trying to build projects that invite public intervention and interaction. As always, there a number of creative endeavours that I have seen other people execute over time that have parallels with or influence my own ideas.  Some of these I am more particularly connected with, and some of them have been brought to my attention via discussions with others.  I‘d like to take this opportunity to tip my hat to a few creatives who turn me on and to introduce some great art to others.

Perhaps the closest parallel comes courtesy of legendary Australian left-field composer, Jon Rose.  Most known for his playing of fences in which he takes a string bow to outback fence lines, Rose has a broader body of work that embraces a range of violin variations and wacky wavelengths.

In particular, he was commissioned to create a cycling symphony of sorts to coincide with Canberra’s centenarian celebrations in 2013.  He teamed up with inimitable Oz Rat Patrol (perhaps better introduced as a more recent incarnation as Canberra Bike Party ( tp create 100 different bike driven instruments.  These were subsequently choreographed and composed into a live performance.  Check out the Canberra Pursuit below-

I first encountered Lucas Abela in a sweaty, seedy Newcastle pub as part of a ‘This is not Art’ festival ( more than a decade ago.  Suffice to say it was an evening of high spirits and alternate realities into which was tipped this screaming wildman who appeared to be hooked up to a life support amplifier that made him bleed rather than assisting his health.  I had walked into a den of vibrating noise, flying spittle and blood.  That moment will be forever etched (or incised) into my psyche.

Somewhat of a creative genius, Lucas Abela has gone on to pursue a range of complex, technical, dynamic and poetic sound producing devices.  These often function via layers of noise altering effects that are variously triggered by actions of audiences.  A large number of these use the commonly understood mode of a pinball machine as an interface for the general public to both make and experience outcomes.

One of my favourites is his pentagram shaped pinny, Balls for Cthulu, that features a suite of electric guitar necks as the bumper edges of play.  You can see this one and a bunch of other wonderful variants in the video below, from a presentation at Palais de Tokyo titled Temple of Din, in 2015.
Another work that particularly twangs at my heartstrings is the regionally tuned
Gamelan Wizard, a collaboration with a number of Yogyakarta’s gamelan masters, presented at MOFO festival, Hobart, 2015.  
This is quite a recent heads-up from a muso buddy.  The term intonarumori describes a particular type of instrument created by Italian futurist Luigi Russolo.  The Futurists were a bunch of artists of all flavours, working early in the twentieth century who witnessed technological developments such as the car and the aeroplane that changed the shape of humanity forever.  Luigi and his buddies latched onto the significance of these moments and wrote manifestos and made art that particularly emphasized what they saw as new understandings of speed, technology, youth and violence. 

In this particular instance, Luigi was keen to make an instrument that he thought would imitate or imply a sense of the industrial city that he was immersed in.  He made the instruments in a variety of forms and even wrote a specific manifesto called Art of Noises (manifestos really were much cooler back in the old days).  Since his time, many others have looked back upon Russolo’s work, recreating their own take on the instrument and it’s potential.

Here’s a tasty little of vid of the legendary Mike Patton dipping his tow in the intonarumori pool.

Maybe I’ll have a chance to build some pedal powered versions of these in the future?  Big ones…  Makes sense to me…

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Jimmy Dodd, Pedal Powered Chocolate Wheel, 2016 from James Dodd on Vimeo.

This project was initiated by a radio station who were keen to develop something for a promotion together with the Tour Down Under.  They already had a thing called a Randomiser which is used to select random songs and wondered whether there might be a way to translate this into some kind of pedally outcome.  They were keen on the 'chocolate wheel' style which is like a wheel of fortune / spinner disc with a little clicker that eventually stops on a particular segment.  It was a project that I was keen on and was able to apply some existing knowledge to as well as explore some new trickery.  Here's a few shots of some of the process and nerdy bits.

First loose physical mock-up for client - also testing general overall size as the finished machine needed to fit into a specific space.
A bit more progress with the frame and support so that the bike is stationary and not touching the ground.  Features extra heavy duty sissy bar to be strong enough for full grown adults and frame extension on the front to accept a rear wheel.
Final assembly and all moving parts testing before finishing.

 It was nice to work on a job with a decent budget, allowing me to have everything powder coated.

I've been practicing a lot more design for laser cut outcomes over the last few months.  This is a pic that shows all of the construction lines with all of the various parts layered up with all of their intersecting fixing points.  This build had a bunch of laser cut bits to facilitate a main MDF disc that was painted up and all of the divisions and fixings for the perspex face that has slots for various tickets to be put in and out.  I also had a number of alloy discs made that allowed me to fit to the pre-existing parts on the axle and discs to mount a chainring for driving everything.  I used a go-kart axle kit for this job that came with pillow block bearings, hubs and axle mounts that became adapted to fix to the bike parts that I wanted to use. The design process allowed me to achieve quite accurate PCD variations - ie - the mounting disc for the drive needed a PCD bolt pattern to match the chainring and then another to mount to the pattern on the go-kart hub.

Here's a couple of shots of testing variations in the chain rings and spacer set up.

 I also used extra multiples of the same disc to make a basic brake for the wheel.  It doesn't really need a brake but I thought it would make a reassuring safety component.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


This is a component of a larger community arts project in which the trike becomes a site and carrier of the artworks created during workshops.  The title for the workshops is 'Ideas for Machines to Save A City' of which I am proposing a bike might be.  The workshops will be held in April and May of 2016 - more details here -

There's not much to say, technically, except that it's a simple bolt-on extension for an adult trike bolt-on read end which bolts on to an alloy front triangle.  The rear then has a bolt-on sculptural / painting armature attachment specific to this project.

This phase is a working prototype pursuit, made quickly from things on hand and dormant past projects.  A tray is considered as structural.  Future fantasy resolution would include a few different profile choices and execution in chromoly.

Monday, November 30, 2015


Another tall packing tour tale of stretched proportions comprising a blissful weekend of pedalling and camping, taking in the scenery of South Australia's southern Barossa region.  Beginning in Williamstown this adventure was mostly along unsealed fire roads, loosely following the Heysen trail through the Mount Crawford Forest district, to Tanunda, then return.  The distance was about  50 km's a day, made easier by only needing the minimum of gear.  Being a late November outing, it fell just inside the fire danger season, precluding us from camping in the forest proper.

Jimmy's Tall Bike Adventures - Tanundaarrgh from James Dodd on Vimeo.

Past adventures at the links below.

Monday, October 12, 2015


There have been so many great shots of this project.  I have collated some of my favourites together with a bit of an overview which you can view over my website.  More process and build shots are here on this blog.


Each of the LED adornments for the Shedding Light Sepeda Lampus was developed in response to drawings and artwork created by Tutti Artists. Wire form interpretations were created and then wrapped with battery powered LED strips. Everyone pitched in with their ideas and contributed to the construction of the LED components.  James' 3 headed snowman was the first to be completed, followed by William's unicorn and Joel's Shark.  The team of wonderful creatures became the perfect figurehead presence throughout the project.


 This project has been a real cracker and completely amazing for me as my first project with Tutti Arts.  Below are some great pics of the just some of the process of working together  with the Tutti team on making the Sepeda Lampus and Kaki Limas which became a central part of the OzAsia Fest Shedding Light project.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


As part of a large-scale project I am currently working together with a number of Tutti Arts artists to realise a bunch of things for Oz Asia Festival 2015.  In this case I have been working together with James Kurtze on a Sepeda Lampu, or a kind of illuminated pedal car.  There is a bunch of background information relating to Sepeda Lampus in the previous blog post.  James is an artist who has a particular interest in filmmaking and you can check out one of his great works here.  The particular character that we using as the basis for this outcome is a three headed snowman.  The Oz Asia Festival had it's media launch the other night and James' sepeda lampu was featured on stage, with him delivering the festival director, Joseph Mitchell, in a grand entrance on the Playhouse theatre stage.  The following post gives a bit of an overview of the creative process so far.

This is James and I waiting side of stage for the moment where James rode the sepeda lampu across the stage in front of a full house at the Playhouse theatre.

The machine, here, in the last phases of it's development before the launch.  The LED strips are powered by a battery carried on the bike.

A copy of James' concept drawings for the sepeda lampu served as the reference point for translation into a wire form that becomes the frame to fix the LED's to.  I used a board to mark up the drawing first before manipulating the steel rod and holding it in place with some tabs before welding.

Final testing of the mechanics of the bike before committing to finishing.  The wooden frame that creates the elevation for the LED frame work was chosen over steel in order to keep weight down.  The frame also is removable in order to pack the whole lot into the back of a van. It's quite easy to see here that the basics of this sepeda lampu are formed by a pair of factory build bicycles.  Whilst a number of the earlier Indonesian sepeda lampus were handmade, many of the current ones use a factory pedal car, such as a Surrey, as their base.   The Surrey's are quite heavy duty and can handle being ridden every day with a full load and come with a price tag that reflects this.  Our build matches the resources and short-term outcome that we are working with.

It's a little bit tricky to see in this shot with so much going on but I made a heavy weight steel frame and a set of interfaces to clamp all of the bits square before tacking.

Monday, July 6, 2015


This post is a little bit of a background introduction to a current project which is a collaboration with Tutti Arts that will have it's outcome as a component of the 2015 OzAsia Festival.  The project takes a number of cues from Indonesian cycle culture, some of which I have been a fan of for a long time, others of which I have come to only recently come across.  There are three main sub genres of pedal-able machines that I will share with you here.

The primary thing that the project responds to are Sepeda Lampus.  The literal translation is 'Bicycle Lights' and refers to the brightly decorated pedal cars that are found in the Sultan's Palace square of Jogjakarta.   These are available for people to take on short-term hire and ride around the square as entertainment.  They often feature sound systems that blare pop music.

The Sepeda Lampus are also referred to as 'Odong Odong', though I feel this refers more specifically to mobile children's rides.  I find these particularly exciting, especially the form pictured below that is like a miniature ferris wheel, powered by a secondary set of cranks on the machine, where your child is inserted into a small cage before being swung around in glee.  These also appear in a more motorised form!

The final reference in this set is that of Sepeda Tinngi, or 'Bicycle Tall'.  Having been a tall bike enthusiast for quite a while there are a number of things that stand out in the Indonesian subculture. Check out this great clip below that gives an overview of Sepeda Tinngi fans - take particular note of the fixed and backwards fixed tall riding demos!

Further to this radicalness, Sepeda Tinngi have a particular style, typified by oversized, triangulated bars.  Of course, these are best when taken to the extreme!