Giddy attendees at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas report encountering an old, bright yellow cigarette vending machine. Only instead of smokes, the machine dispenses artwork in cellophane-wrapped cartons.
The converted cigarette machine is called an Art-o-mat and for a mere $5 you can get a pack of art. Wired.com blogger Roberto Baldwin snapped a photo of one yesterday and wrote, "I only have $3. Sure there's a metaphor for 4K TVs in there somewhere."
Art-o-mats have been around for a little while now, but they're becoming more prevalent as a way to bring art to the masses in an entertaining way. Back in the late '90s, North Carolina artist Clark Whittington noticed his friend had a Pavlovian response to crinkling cellophane.
"When the friend heard someone opening a snack, he had the uncontrollable urge to have one too," Whittington wrote on the Art-o-mat site. So the artist took advantage of that response, converting a banned cigarette vending machine into an art dispenser, appropriately, for a show at a cafe in Winston-Salem. When the show was over, the cafe owner asked to keep the machine.