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  • Writer's pictureDavid Gidali

Ep-23: Brett Doar's chain-reaction contraptions (and that viral OK-GO music video).

Dabbling in what seems like unrelated fields of interest eventually matured into a unique and surprising expertise (once all the pieces fell magically into place). He calls himself a "contraptionist" who builds ridiculously complex chain reaction mechanisms (AKA Rube Goldberg machines) and other kinetic sculptures for a wide range of clients, and is most famous for his work on OK-GO's "This Too Shall Pass" music video.

He may claim that being labeled an "expert" doesn't mean much when he's one of so few who practice his craft, but building a name for one's self in such a niche and eccentric field is much rarer and harder to obtain than building an expertise in a known and well-documented field.

In this episode I was joined by Brett Doar with the goal of understanding how he managed to turn what sounds like a fun and childish side-project into a profitable workshop that often has multiple projects simultaneously. Apparently the phrase "if you build it they will come" is double-true in his case, and in his line of work there are no shortcuts:

"People that have worked with me for a while will probably tell you that we sort of have our own vocabulary [...] I'll be sometimes trying to explain something, and it's not using words. [...] it's using sometimes strange little noises [...] I'll be like 'this needs to go like: boom boom boom boom, plup- wheeesh, poop puh-chuh, deh-chuh de-chuh deh-chuh de-chuh; poo whoop whoop BOOMBPH!' [...] And I'll go like: 'does that make any sense?' and he'll go like: 'I know exactly what you're talking about'."

Episode Links:

A nice quick intro to Brett Doar and his work:

The "Phantom Limb Generator" mentioned in the episode:

The countdown clock mechanism for Google IO:

Show notes:

Look Around You (TV show excerpt):

Opening and closing song: "14 Days" by Akın Sevgör.

Stay tuned to our next episode of The Post-Post Podcast in (roughly) 2 weeks!

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