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Guy kneeling working on a jet engine


July 27–December 1, 2019

Guest Curator: 
David Cole


The MCD MachinistBar presented by Center Hardware: During the run of the exhibition, MCD’s John and Robyn Horn MakeArt Lab will be open for visitors to explore materials and design their own machines with supplies and tools provided by Center Hardware.

The machinist is among the most exacting craftsmen. It is the resourcefulness, ingenuity, and skill of the machinist that creates the critical parts that allow an idea to become a reality. At the extreme confluence of precision, accuracy, invention, and design, there are objects that continue to inspire these makers because they represent the finest work and the purest forms.

This exhibition will present objects that makers and enthusiasts themselves have proposed as “the ultimate machined object”. Posed as a question in 2009 to an online forum called Practical Machinist, over a period of several months, a small community debated “What is the ultimate machine object/mechanism?” They proposed their favorites in an ongoing conversation of posts and responses.

Some objects represent the primal building blocks of mechanization: the wheel, the lever, the screw. Others are examples of tremendous complication: a Linotype machine, an aircraft engine, a microprocessor. Between these extremes are seemingly humble objects that belie their sophistication but have revolutionized the world. Our global standard of living is built upon these technologies; this exhibition attempts to elucidate what is so special about these objects and why they were proposed as the ultimate machined object/mechanism.


Jet engine. Image courtesy of NASA.

View the press release for Dead Nuts: a search for the ultimate machined object here.

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