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Useless inventions all the rage at Fringe Festival

Monday 22 Mar 2010 10:18 p.m.

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By Dave Goosselink

Dunedin's getting experimental and edgy, with more than 50 events on offer in the city's Fringe Festival.

But along with the usual theatre, comedy and arts performances, is a group of eccentric inventors, taking their inspiration from the Japanese.

The exhibition is Dunedin's first taste of chindogu, the Japanese art of ingenious inventions that are just a little bit silly.

"They are useless inventions," says Jane Venis. "They are solutions to problems that weren't particularly pressing to begin with."

Venis is an expert on the stuff. Her latest creation is a multi-purpose ukulele for the busy cook.

Veteran inventor Eli Kerin found he kept losing his reading glasses when he took them off, inspiring a pair of wide-angle spectacles.

"When I first tried it out I thought I'd have trouble reaching to pick up things, but it's alright because my arm gets longer, and I've found my spectacles."

But there's a fine line between a genuine chindogu invention and something that's designed purely for laughs.

"The thing about a chindogu, it has to exist. It has to be used, and yet it can't be used. As soon as you go to use it you find it is actually virtually useless," says Venis.

David Cohen though believes his post-nasal drip preventer is the invention the world's been waiting for, replacing the common hanky.

"You take this, which is a small silicone rubber trough, and you place it under the nose to catch any of the post-nasal drips," he says.

And surely there's a market for pants with a stool attached, so you can sit anywhere, anytime - provided you're not walking through too many doorways.

The inventors say it's practical for the belt industry, because the stool drags the pants down - and you wouldn't want that, looking a fool with your pants on the ground.

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