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Culture: Automaton
Vending Machine Performance Art   (+47, -2)  [vote for, against]
add intrinsic entertainment value to vending machine purchases

Recently, after a marathon repair effort, my university, UWS, got it's most valuable asset back. The iced confectionary vending machine is surely a wondrous thing. You insert your money, select from the dozen different snacks available and from a glass window, a little piece of magic can be seen.

Inside, the machine is a small freezer. It's lid props up, and a little elephant-like trunk maneuvers over the section housing the ice cream corresponding with your selection. It then drops down and activates a vacuum which sucks the item up, then deposits it in an area where the user can grab it, and walk away.

I used it today. Passers by watched the magic in awe. They say small things amuse small minds. Now, given the surroundings of a university computer science lab, well, it speaks for its self: this, logically, can only be huge. But vacuums are not enough.

Every day, vending machines spanning the globe charge retail prices to deliver products. No smile. No "have a nice day." Just a minimum standard of service. The least they could do is provide some momentary entertainment as the product is distributed. So I propose corporations get serious about their social responsibilities and look closely at vending machine performance art.

Just dropping a product into a tray is not enough! There need to be more cogs, more vacuums and more slippery slides. More rockets, magnifying glasses, ropes, ladders, cats, bowling balls, tennis balls and such-and-such. Perhaps vending machines could be designed to involve the user more. A riddle could be distributed, some cogs turned in a specific order. Theme vending machines could be manufactured. How about Indiana Jones? An item is dispensed along with a bag of sand. If the item is not replaced with the sand lightening fast, a big Styrofoam ball is propelled at the user. There are endless permutations and combinations all aimed at giving the customer some intrinsic value in the act of the purchase through entertainment.

This idea is not only doable and practical, but it would also give traditionally 'artsy' types an extra avenue into engineering fields, which are traditionally seen as more 'useful'. The extra vending machine spending would create more consumption, and jobs would result from starving choreographers moving into Vending Machine Performance Art, resulting in increased GDP and fun times for all.
-- sdm, Sep 18 2001

Gumball Wizard http://www.wizardve...bindex=cbrowse&id=3
Not nearly as involved as your suggestion, but more fun than the regular ones. [baron555, Oct 04 2004]

Vending machines that dispense art. [waugsqueke, Oct 04 2004]

I've seen this done. I believe it was at a highway rest stop in Ohio. They had a gumball vending machine that sends the gumball down a roller-coaster-like track before it reaches you, complete with electronic "whee!" and "yikes!" noises. It was really unsettling, actually...
-- moonmoose, Sep 18 2001

ahh . .world expo 88, brisvegas. a halfbakers dream .. . stefan's sky needle . .gems.
-- benfrost, Sep 18 2001

Most excellent idea; I would start buying things at one of these vending machines just to be able to watch it in motion...
-- lewarcher, Sep 18 2001

Fine idea, sdm. Croissant.

Imagine PT Barnum, Rube Goldberg, the Incredible Machine et al, emptying our pockets by taking advantage of our seemingly insatiable hunger for junk food <Homer Simpson - Hee hee, machine funny, me want more doughnuts. Mmmmm, doughnuts.....>

And in a way it sort of captures the spirit of Chuckles the Clown: A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.
-- Canuck, Sep 19 2001

Yeah - those Ice Cream Suckers Rule. Hollywood Center Studios has one - I always get Ice Cream there. I like the novelty of the machine as it is - they are Ice Cream 'Novelties' after all. Do what thou wilt - just keep that Ice Cream Truck Music down to a minimum or I'll have to shoot yer azz.
-- thumbwax, Sep 19 2001

Given the mechanical failure rate of the 'ordinary' vartiety of vending machines, a Rube Goldberg vending machine would go quite a long way toward revitalizing the economy for maintenance personnel. After all, more moving parts means more ways to break. Slightly higher premiums from buyers could offset the added expense. It's a win-win-win.

Now just deposit 75 cents, press the button, and watch your croissant shoot from a cannon, catch the trapeze wire, do a triple flip through the flaming hoop (to finish Baking, of course!) and land on your plate.
-- BigBrother, Sep 20 2001

Sorry for being a miserable british person, but I find the unbearable tension of wondering if I'm actually going to get anything out at all from a vending machine to be more than enough for my weak heart.

Particularly thrilling are those chocolate/snack dispensers where the goods are held in a wire helix that slowly rotates to push the product forwards, and you're always worrying, will it stop spinning before the chocolate gets free? And then it stops, your Snickers poised on a knife-edge like the truck at the end of the Italian Job. Edge of the seat, sweaty-palmed thrills.

Put in some zany antics and flashy stuff, and you'll only detract from the sheer, agonizing, existence-of-a-just-god-questioning, sickness-unto-death terror. And without that brief moment of true emotion, my life would be one big Disney blandness.
-- pottedstu, Sep 21 2001

pottedstu, Isn't the phrase "miserable Brit" redundant? :o)

What if we made the machine large enough to hold an actual Performance Artist? A guy who lives in the vending machine and does an improv for each item you purchase. He would have to deliver the goods as well as a show or you could have some actions to invoke, from pulling the plug, to temporarily cutting off his oxygen supply, or re-depositing the treat for him to consume. Life in a microcosm you control!
-- Canuck, Sep 22 2001

bubble from UK Big Brother would suit this job to a T
-- po, Sep 22 2001

Where you and I, UnaBubba, are overcapitalized.
-- StarChaser, Sep 22 2001

-- sdm, Sep 23 2001

-- po, Sep 23 2001

Doesn't work on tigers, though...

StarChaser Tyger
-- StarChaser, Sep 23 2001

[pottedstu] Wouldn't it be great if the vending machine had a mechanizm in it that randomly swalowed or destroyed your purchase? The machine would have a sign that says, "this machine MAY vend your purchase" followed by an explination that to make the possibility of miss-vending more intertaining, the machine will purposly fail to vend a certain percentage of its snacks. In return, the price is lowered (the vending company makes this back in recovered miss-vended product unless they choose to distroy the item for the entertainment value) or the machine also randomly vends another item when you purchase the first.

No need to worry or beat the machine up because you know from the start that "its all part of the show"

Wow... is my mind really that twisted?
-- James Newton, Aug 02 2002

Vending Roulette: One puts their money on one item. They get a random number. If it matches, they get an extra. If not, they get the item of the number they drew. Should also inspire a sense of community among those unlucky draws who might want to trade away their pick. Anyone remember the store of 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn'? Sorry, when I say the word 'pick,' that comes to mind.
-- watermelancholy, Aug 02 2002

Vending machines already eat my money enough, thank you very much.
-- andrewm, Oct 21 2002

//Vending Roulette//

A variation on this is baked. It didn't give you extra items, but what it did do was occasionally give you what you asked for, FREE! It would flash "You are a Winner!" on the LCD display, and dump your original purchase price out of the change slot.
-- krelnik, Oct 21 2002

A fellow I used to work with did some true "performance art" with one vending machine we had in the office. Really ticked off the powers that be, too.

It was one of those machines that has the many-tiered turntable with items on it. There's a button to rotate the turntable until your item is "up front", and a little door that is released when you put in your money. You push the door to the side and reach in and take your item.

Well he figured: while I've got this door open, why not put something back? So he put a little package of office supplies in one slot. A box of Preparation H in another. My personal favorite: a US one dollar bill placed in a slot that sold for $1.10.

For some reason, the vending company got REALLY annoyed, and the machine was taken away.
-- krelnik, Oct 21 2002

This is certainly baked many times over with regard to gumballs or other spherical candies. One such machine, "Oscar's Wild Ride", includes a "game" where the purchaser controls the timing of the gumball dropping by pushing a button. If the gumball bounces into a swinging basket, the player wins two gumballs instead of one.

Yet another variation on this concept is a "pinball-style" game where inserting the coin and turning the dispenser knob feeds the gumball/whatever onto a playfield. The player can then use a couple flippers to try to get the ball to hit a target. If the player succeeds before his ball falls between the flippers or into a hole, a second ball will be released. When a ball falls into the hole or between the flippers, it is given to the player. Thus, a player is guaranteed one gumball for 25 cents, but if he is skillfull/lucky, he'll get two. Although the machine allows the player to keep playing with both gumballs on the playfield after hitting the target, hittng the target again will have no additional effect.
-- supercat, Oct 21 2002

Brilliant. I'm a brit, and at our college, it's so boring waiting for the sprial thingy!

This could be a whole new course offered in education: Vending machine Engineering, which could produce some new interesting ideas
-- Bugsy, Oct 21 2002

A live performance artist to be placed in the vending machine as suggested above would of course be impractical. I propose retrofitting a machine with a “dancing chicken” attachment. An ordinary barnyard fowl would be fitted with special glasses having mirrored backs; this would allow the bird to only see behind him/herself. The bird would be placed in a small box with a video screen at the rear and a treadmill below. When a short videotape of an urban thoroughfare was played it would stimulate the fowl’s natural instinct to cross the road the mirrored glasses would cause it to walk backwards producing an amusing “Moonwalking Chicken” for the customer to enjoy.

Regards Ardd
-- Ardd, Oct 22 2002

I envisage a beautifully modelled 1:200 scale container port, with chocolate bars replacing the containers. The chocolate bar would be picked up and delivered to you by a combination of one of those huge containeer cranes and a freight train car and a shunting engine. There would be container ships full of new chocolate bars at the dockside, some unloading and some waiting to unload. A small number of chocolate bars would, when unwrapped, turn out to contain not chocolate, but tiny models of illegal immigrants.
-- hippo, Oct 22 2002

Now that they re-released Tron, you could have a small video game incorparated, with the motorcycle game. If you lose, you still get your purchase, but if you win, like the ideas above, you get either another one, or your money back.
-- Bugsy, Oct 22 2002

does sdm mean University of Wales, Swansea?

If so, how come I never found this machine? >sniff<
-- yamahito, Oct 22 2002

What is needed are vending machines that behave like Willie Wonka's three course meal gum machine.
-- namaste, Oct 22 2002

Back to the idea of vending machine roulette, how about Russian roulette so that every sixth chocolate bar is actually filled with tobasco sauce ar something. this would attract all kinds of people who want to snack to the extreme.
-- Alphaman, Oct 22 2002

[namaste] It was on again over the weekend. Yippeee!. And I agree.
-- blissmiss, Oct 22 2002

I am pretty sure that sdm is an Australian but I have had a bump on the head and I am not totally sure where I live any more
-- po, Oct 22 2002

[bliss & namaste] you want a vending machine that turns you into a giant blueberry? well, i guess it would be a great excuse to leave the office....
-- china, Oct 23 2002

Sorry, I think the last thing this world needs is more mind-rotting eye candy, much less paired with the teeth-rotting variety.
-- cleffedup, Nov 24 2002

-- MrSheep, Nov 24 2002

Your croissant will be delivered to you by a tiny electronic monkey in a fez, who will clamber down a miniature vine and tap his foot impatiently until you answer a riddle in exchange.
-- Tabbyclaw, Apr 02 2003

"in an area where the user can grab it, and walk away."

Warning label?
-- pwn3d, Feb 07 2006

-- Zimmy, Sep 15 2006

random, halfbakery