Aug 28 - Sep 12, 2021
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Tesla's Enigma Engine
John Watkins
Roscommon, MI

I found I have a knack for designing and building haunted houses for Halloween and did so for years but was always uncomfortable with the implied “evil” aspect. I really don’t like scaring kids. I want to capture their imaginations. My true joy is the creative process. Tesla’s Enigma Engine is essentially a miniature version of one of my haunted houses without the scares. It transforms from a drab mechanical contraption to a blaze of swirling colors and motion. This started off as a simple lamp project. I saw a neat modern looking lamp on an old Star Trek episode so I decided to try to build something similar. The basic lamp wasn’t challenging enough so I kept increasing the lamp’s capabilities. My one week project ended up taking three months. The rest of Tesla’s Enigma Engine grew out of my love of storytelling and building props/effects. I’ve written a complete backstory for the piece that involves Nikola Tesla, the U.S. Government’s secret programs of the 1950’s and a touch of sci-fi. With the exception of the lights, light effects and a few other new parts, everything else was built by me or reclaimed from local thrift stores.

Artwork Details
Installation
72" x 84" x 34.5”
NFS