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26th May 2016

The Great Grammatizator

Our Scrambled Messaging Machine competition has been announced, and Alexandra Bridarolli’s winning idea The Great Grammatizator is now under way in the Makespace.

To commemorate the successful laying of the Atlantic Cable in 1866, the AHRC-funded project, Scrambled Messages: The Telegraphic Imaginary 1857-1900 is curating an art and science exhibition entitled Victorians Decoded: Art and Telegraphy at the Guildhall Art Gallery which will open to the public September 2016. The challenge she won was to design and build an interactive messaging machine which interprets ‘telegraphy’ freely, and allows the public to take part in the exhibition.

We loved her poetic cross-disciplinary idea for a vintage inspired message scrambling contraption, imagined as a bridge to the past as well as a gate to abstraction and dreams.

She says... ”The Great Grammatizator is inspired by the machine of the same name from one of Roald Dahl's short stories Someone Like You.  Based on the idea that human concepts and ideas are based on mechanical, mathematical principles (like music), the device will produce self-constructed messages using a database of words.

The message will have the structure of an Exquisite Corpse (from the French Cadaver Exquis), a creative method to produce sentences devised by the surrealists in 1918. If the original game is meant to be a collaborative bit of poetry, the device imagined for this project will by itself produce the message, in an interactive and didactic relationship with the public.”

Alexandra Bridarolli is a chemist by background, and graduated from the Universities of Strasbourg and Dresden. She has always had a strong interest in art and history. This has led her to a PhD at UCL in Conservation Science for Cultural Heritage - a field at the interface of hard science and heritage. When not working on her novel canvas painting conservation techniques, Alexandra dedicates her time to analogue photography in the little known darkroom at the UCL Institute of Archaeology.

Until July 2016, she will be working with the Institute of Making UCL, King’s College and the Courtauld Institute of Art on the development and creation of the Great Grammatizator.





The exhibition Victorians Decoded:  Art and Telegraphy, runs from September 2016 to early February 2017. Visitors will be given the opportunity to actively interact with the machine, which is inspired by the first telegraph, whose 150th anniversary will be commemorated during the exhibition.


We received a number of excellent proposals for this competition but sadly could only chose one!

Selected honorable mentions go to these great submissions:

Sakti Ramadhan
and Feysa Poetry: The Quill

Matei Mitrache and Alan Ma: Encrypting a Painting

Danial Chitnis, Prash Ganeswaran and Simone Quaggia: Transatlantic Timeline

Jason Cleverly: Deep Dark Communicator

Rohit Khanna: Instant Messenger

Asha Ting Ding: / i.T. /