The Quickening

Science Channel really kicked things off today – they produced a really nice show page with lots of preview material and some pretty pictures and everything.  Gawp at it here.

They also created a Hackett-themed, humpty-dumpty-meets-MacGyver puzzle game: it’s a picture of me that has been turned into a puzzle.

Can you imagine the meeting?

‘So I think we need to cross-promote Hackett and the puzzling crowd’ [unveils foam-core board with graphs on it], ‘Just as Hackett creates order from chaos on the show, so the viewers will create order from the chaos of the puzzle pieces…’

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a good puzzle, but a it’s a bit weird to BE one.  I am just hoping that all the kings horse and all the kings men can deal with it, so I can get on with other things.

Oh, alright then, since you ask, Stuck With Hackett premieres on Science Channel on Thursday the 18th of August at 10.30E/P.


You’ll hear me talk a lot about ‘obtainium’ and it’s true, it’s the basis of what I do.

So what is it?

At its core, it’s stuff, stuff that’s been trashed, forgotten about, abandoned, left to die on an ice floe.  I’ve obtained it and it’s become the wonderful raw material:  obtainium.  I’m not saying I’ve stolen it and it might not even be free, but the point is, it’s stuff that nobody else but me really wants.

A quick aside.  I obtained the word ‘obtainium’ from machine art pioneers, the Survival Research Laboratories.  They certainly popularized its usage, though some say they themselves obtained from somewhere – that would be kinda neat, no?

The cool thing about really good obtainium is that it’s often very high quality, well made and well designed stuff.  Think about it – American manufacturing and it’s more mysterious twin, the military-industrial complex, churned out billions and billions of dollars worth of highly engineered items during the Cold War alone.  Add industrial mass production from the early part of the 20th century and you’re sitting on a mound of obtainium, just waiting to be reborn.

A core concept of the of the show, wait for it…premiering on Thursday, August 18th at 10.30EST on Science Channel…is that I get to use the most delicious and unusual obtaining and to go to places like this amazing airplane graveyard in the desert.  This place was amazing, it was as if the cruel God of Obtainium was having a particularly good day – every time I wanted something, I not only found it, but had options.  Now that is a good day in the junkyard.

Fear Is Never Boring

First of all, remember kids: don’t run with scissors, don’t eat yellow snow and, most importantly of all, don’t forget that ‘Stuck With Hackett’ is on Science Channel at 10.30EST on August 18th.  Click here to sign up for a reminder.

So the TV people think that the audience needs to get to know me a little better.   You could all come round for dinner, but I am a lousy cook.  I guess I’m ‘that guy who builds stuff out of trash’, which is true, obviously, but not the whole story.

I have been trying, for much of my time on this earth, to turn trash into art, to transmute base metal into gold.  Sounds more pretentious than it is – necessity has had a lot to do with it: I’m not sitting on piles of money.  The main tool in my artistic toolbox has been the Madagascar Institute.  It’s a loose combine (don’t call it a collective, we’re not hippies!) of artists, makers and engineers.  Our aim has always been to create installations that scare you witless and, hopefully, make you think a little.

The Jet Ponies are one of my favorite examples.  Before I tell you about them, take a look:

What you’re watching is two propane-powered, valveless pulse-jets with seats, joined to a central, rotating, spindle.  You quite simply saddle up, fire up the jets and ride in a fiery circle.  As the jets reach full power, the ‘ponies’ swing out so you’re riding almost perpendicular to the ground.

Oh, did I mention that it’s deafeningly loud?  And really hot?  The ride of your life (maybe literally)?  I like to think it makes people confront their own mortality, no that’s not quite right, it’s more like riding your own mortality and hoping you don’t fall off.

And to me, that is a beautiful thing.