Gloriously complexified necktie-tying machine


I’ve always wanted a machine like this. But, I’ve wanted it to be able to tie my tie to the perfect length for me automatically compensating for the thickness of the tie’s material. Plus, it would be able to tie any type of knot imaginable. I’ll keep dreaming…

this is fantastic! ꒰•‧̫•ू꒱

not nearly as complex or impressive, but in high school I modified my doorknob and rigged a bunch of pulleys and weights so I could open and close my door from my bed across the room. And I hot-glued clothes pins to all the knobs on my TV so I could operate it with my feet (no remote–it was the cheapest b&w tv you could get at Kmart.) Now, if I had been a retired engineer who was having trouble getting around in my old age, that would have been admirable, but I was just a slack mofo 15-yr-old

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After attending a wedding last year as a member of the wedding party, I’ve decided both the Turing and Voight-Kampff tests got it wrong; AI will have surpassed humanity only when it has learned to tie a bow tie knot.

I’ve never understood the “artistry” of intentional uselessness like this.

If you built a machine that could speed-tie a necktie in a fraction of a second, but artificially limited it so that you had to activate it and then wait several minutes before it actually did it, no one would call that “art”.

So what makes this machine - which does essentially the exact same thing, just in a more drawn out, less extreme manner - any different?

The only tangible difference I can think of is that here a person can watch a bunch of bits and pieces move and make noise while they are waiting for the machine to tie the necktie, whereas in my example there’s nothing to keep a person entertained while they wait for the machine to actually accomplish its task.

But is that art? Or is it just exploiting humanity’s magpie reflex to ooh and ahh over shiny things when we’re not otherwise occupied?

Does it actually speak to some unique human conception or expression that is the essnece of its artistry, which my counter example does not? Or is it merely that it better conforms to our instinctual triggers, providing auditory and visual stimuli that our evolutionary development has hardwired us to respond to with rapt attention and general curiosity?

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That’s a good question.

The act of watching the machine do its thing is like watching a movie, and movies are considered art.

I’m working on a similar contraption in terms of its taking a long time to do something that doesn’t need to take a long time… a wristwatch that draws the time on a tiny Etch-a-Sketch. It’s entirely silly, yet quite easy to relate to, as everyone has wanted to be able to draw numbers on the screen, but most of us lack the coordination. But is it art, or a gizmo? Only an art museum can answer that, by buying one and exhibiting it as art (or not).

Yes, I’d say; and yes, again.
But, “Is it art?”; why, did anyone claim it is?
It’s entertaining; does its existence require justification or purpose?


Except that movies tell stories. There’s a big difference between mere aesthetics and storytelling.

This machine certainly appeals to a specific aesthetic sense, no one can deny that. But I’m not sure it can really be called “art” in anything but the most basic sense of human craft.

Of course when designing a piece like this, it’s imperative that you also design it to applaud at itself.


This tells a story: Once upon a time there was a necktie, and a machine tied a half-Windsor knot in it, then the same machine untied the knot. The end.

So you want a wife from the 1950’s?

Sure, it’s art. The machine itself is art, plus it does a performance which is akin to a person doing a dance.

I design products that do things in an unusual way. It’s not the most practical way, but it’s interesting. When I was designing my oscilloscope clock many years ago, I went on a search for electronic parts to drive a cathode-ray tube. Over and over, I was met with a “Why would you want to do that,when you could just use an LCD screen?”

Art is futile - that’s how you can identify it.


they don’t have to. usually film-as-capital-A-art doesn’t tell any kind of a story. but even a straightforward movie has a photographic component and also mis-en-scene, both of which can function as art (or not) in addition to the screenplay-as-literature.

anyway, I couldn’t let that slide, since I used to take film classes, but I don’t necessarily agree with @nixiebunny’s analogy that the machine is art for the same reasons that films can be art. firstly, I thought the maker just wanted to make it, and other people were calling it art. which I have no problem with but seems to shift the focus some. secondly, to me, it functions as art less as some sort of highbrow conceptual idea and more just as fine craftsmanship, but also the idea that mankind has developed this mechanized society that allows us to have real work done for us and this one ties a tie is a bit absurd. so that could be a comment on the human condition in the eye of some beholders.

Of course, the cop-out answer is that modern art is free to be interpreted by each individual. It’s one of those cop-outs that happens to also be true. Art is weird.

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This is the sort of art that “makes a statement”, rather than telling a story.

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I’ve never understood the “artistry” of intentional uselessness like this.

I would really like to see this device operating in real life and not in a video. One of the things that struck me was the percussive nature of some of the actions, including some that have nothing to do with tying the tie. If it performs like this in person and makes the same noises then I would say it is a song and dance, in slow motion.

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A microprocessor? Those are for sissies. Back in my day this thing would have been controlled by the action of a music box.

If you want to consistently tie to the perfect length, find someone who is a tailor and ask them to explain what the extra seam about a hand’s width or two from the skinny end of the tie is for.

for any of you who are unsure if this is Art or not, compare your reaction to the video in the article and this which is a much more complex analogy from over 200 years ago.

I applaud Seth Goldstein for the mechanical achievement of this device, he can make whatever strikes his fancy, and shouldn’t be judged by anyone but himself. And if this machine does not make you reflect upon it’s purpose and meaning, well, Art is lost on you because you’re missing the point entirely.

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