When asked if we’d like to contribute a print for an exhibition called The Science of Play–as part of Design Manchester, and to raise money for Play360–we decided we’d have some fun with the brief. We built a machine that exhibition visitors can use to generate one-of-a-kind prints to take away with them.

MAVIS (Musically Articulated Visual Illustration System) is a hand-built keyboard, connected to a computer and the internet via an Arduino. Play the keys to make sounds as someone else turns the handle, and MAVIS draws lines on the spooling paper as you go. When youre done, cut off your print and take it with you.

MAVIS has her own website, where she automatically posts her players’ sessions, in real-time, as digital representations of the prints they produce.

The MAVIS printing machine.
Close up side view of the MAVIS printing machine.
Top down view of the keys, roller, paper and ink on the MAVIS musical printing machine.
Side view of the MAVIS printing machine, showing yellow legs, wooden body, and painted keys.
People playing with the MAVIS musical printing machine.
Close up view of the paint pens working inside the MAVIS musical printing machine.