Monday, March 02, 2015

Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: The Automaton in the European Imagination

Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: The Automaton in the European Imagination
Due out late in February of 2011 is a most intriguing book by Minsoo Kang entitled Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: The Automaton in the European Imagination. The book explores the Western world's fascination with automata in order to better understand ourselves as humans.

From the book's press release:
Kang tracks the first appearance of the automaton in ancient myths through the medieval and Renaissance periods, marks the proliferation of the automaton as a central intellectual concept in the Scientific Revolution and the subsequent backlash during the Enlightenment, and details appearances in Romantic literature and the introduction of the living machine in the Industrial Age. He concludes with a reflection on the destructive confrontation between humanity and machinery in the modern era and the reverberations of the humanity-machinery theme today.

That is an impressive scope of inquiry! This book is sure to be a fascinating read for anyone interested in automata.

Here is where you can get the book: Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: The Automaton in the European Imagination.



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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Musical Machines and Living Dolls: The Murtogh D. Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata


Yesterday's post reminded me to remind you about this book I posted about back in 2011. The Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ is home to the Guinness Collection of 750 antique, mechanical musical instruments and automata. It is one of the biggest, best, and most well-managed collections I know of.

The museum has created an illustrated book featuring pieces from its permanent exhibition titled Musical Machines and Living Dolls: The Murtogh D. Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata. Written by Ellen M. Snyder-Grenier (former Curator of the Guinness Collection), this 144-page hardcover features 138 photographs and over 20 illustrations on beautiful glossy paper.

Evenly divided between automata and mechanical musical instruments, the book is a wealth of information on the history of both. It is a beautiful and well-written book, which offers a rich view of an extremely important collection. I recommend it. It makes a great gift for those with a serious interest in the subject.

Here is where you can order Musical Machines and Living Dolls.


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Monday, February 23, 2015

Ro-Bow - a robot that plays a real violin

Seth Goldstein dropped me a line to let us know about a machine he created which plays tunes on a real a violin. This mechanical wonder was recently featured in the New York Times. Here is a link to the article on Seth Goldstein's RO-BOW. In the video, Goldstein explains the basic components of the machine and how they work together make the machine perform musical magic.

Machines that play the violin are not new -- some may be seen at The Morris Museum in New Jersey. Check out the wonderful book on the collection called Musical Machines and Living Dolls. Still, Goldstein's robot is of a differnet, more modern variety, capable of replicating any tune that can play on a keyboard. It works on some very unique and ingenious principles. Truly amazing.

You can find out more about Seth Goldstein on his web site, which has information and video showing his other pieces Why Knot? and Cram Guy.



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