Huff & Puff


Listen in to a lively dialogue between two puffer fish…
Huff & Puff is a “machine” that displays two lively puffer-fishes in a synchronized “puffing” dialogue.

The idea was to try and recreate nature’s matchless mechanism. We choose to mimic the puffer’s unique natural defense mechanism, which allows the fish to inflate rapidly (by filling their elastic body with water). Translating this smooth mechanism into in a manmade artifact was a challenge.
The puffer fishes “inflate” by two “pumps” – a double piston-and-crank mechanism that expand and contract the fish spherical structure. The mechanism is powered by a geared DC motor, as the rotary motion of the motors is converted to the reciprocating motion of the “pumps”.

The fishes’ spherical shape was created out of a single paper with a special folding pattern. The mechanism itself is an assembly of specially designed linkages (laser-cut out of a 1/8” acrylic sheet) and acrylic rods. This design and the materials selection for the machine illustrate the idea of the flexible “puffer fish” body as a whimsical counterpoint to the solid sleek nature of the linkages and pistons used to make them expand and contract.

Looking at the “large” puffing mechanism of the fishes, we appreciate how nature was able to condense the unique locomotion and defense mechanisms into swimming fishes.

Studio: Independent Project
Year Completed: 2009
Collaborators: Angela Chen