Colin Ellard, a cognitive neuroscientist, defines psychogeography as “the study of the relationship between the places we move through in our everyday life and the effects that those places have on our minds.”
The term emerged in the 1950s and the ramifications of psychogeography are fascinating. Take local Jesse Dusell for example: Dusell was never into robotics per se, but he credits five years as an Ace Hardware employee for inspiring him to build a 10-foot tall mechanical suit known as “The Dusellinator.”
“Just being around the hardware and equipment got me thinking of what I could create.”
And, while he has long been fascinated by engineering and new technology, The Dusellinator is literally his first attempt at building a model of any kind.
The term model might be misleading because Dusell shared that plans aren’t readily available for this kind of thing. “People hide their trade secrets. And, lots of inventions have patents or licensing.”
He became adept at creating solutions to problems as they arose, which is quite possibly another skill that can be credited emerging from his current work environment.
Dusell has a day job that involves maintenance for our local schools. His duties require multi-specialization in areas such as HVAC, boiler maintenance, plumbing, electrical systems and operating heavy equipment.
Dusell is clearly always thinking and reimagining. Other sources of inspiration for his creation include icons from movies like Iron Man which feature mechanical suits.
Dusell used his spare time over a period of three years, investing 1,000 hours in the building of the Dusellinator.
He knew it would be a time consuming process.
“I began the project with the idea that it would evolve. I observed John Wilcznski’s commitment to the Christmas lighting extravaganza out on Richmond Road, and how every year he would add or upgrade the lighting display, and I was inspired by his contribution to our community. I also liked the fact that it was a work in progress that could be enjoyed in stages.”
A Susanville resident since the age of 5, Duselle’s excitement about our town and appreciation for its sense of community is evident. He expressed admiration for The Magical Country Christmas event, remarking, “I can’t imagine such an event being coordinated and executed better in any town, anywhere else.”
Duselle’s mission statement for his creation reads: “The Dusellinator is a nearly 10-foot tall functioning and articulate mechanical suit designed to provide added roving entertainment to local events and promote and showcase our amazing community!”
The Dusellinator has appeared at just two events thus far: The Rails to Trails Festival and Safe and Sane Uptown event. He hopes to be invited to many more and expressed interest in being involved with his favorite Susanville tradition: The Magical Country Christmas. “I’d need to upgrade the traction in the event of snow, of course. I’d also like to build a T-shirt launcher. I have a lot of ideas I hope to implement, but keeping the cost low is definitely a factor.”
He estimates spending approximately $100 monthly on building the suit over the course of three years. The transportation and set-up of The Dusellinator incur additional costs. Dusell also has to consider logistics such as materials which are light and durable for improvements.
One major upgrade was a shelf to rest on when wearing the suit. Previously, Dusell couldn’t manage more than 20 minutes of wear due to extreme fatigue. Even the physicality of his other stint as a volunteer for the fire department didn’t prepare him for the challenge of walking on stilts.
The project is both expensive and exhausting, but the challenge is a welcome one. Dusell has a notebook full of improvements he hopes to make. A trailer for moving the suit without breaking it down is on his wish list, too. Still, the ability to finally have a functioning suit is already reaping rewards.
“I love wearing the mechanical suit. The wonder and joy on a kid’s face is its own reward. I am excited to be able to enhance community events with appearances from The Dusellinator. I hope to become part of many memories Susanville residents experience at community happenings.”
For more information on The Dusellinator, contact Dusell at 249-3617, [email protected] or visit Facebook.com/Dusellinator.