Thursday, February 04, 2016

AutomataCon: a new convention for artists, collectors, historians, and enthusiasts of automata

There is an upcoming event that EVERYONE who reads this blog should know about. The event? AutomataCon. That's right...a convention for us! The press release below says it all. I will be there. I hope you will too!
AutomataCon is a newly conceived convention of and for artists, collectors, historians, and enthusiasts of automatons and related kinetic art. It is a three day event being held March 18th – 20th, 2016 at and in conjunction with the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey, home of the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata.

The goal of the convention is to gather people from around the world to share ideas, build relationships, and grow interest in automata new and old. As can be seen from our ever-growing Attendee Gallery, beginners as well as some of the premier artists, collectors, historians, and authors in the automaton community from around the world plan to be in attendance. The convention will include a variety of private and public programming, including: social gatherings, museum tours, panel discussions, live demonstrations, workshops, presentations, and an exhibition. There will also be a premier showing of the extremely rare 1928 film, Le Monde des Automates, in the museum’s Bickford Theatre. Originally created as a typical period silent film using hand-driven cameras, an accompanying sound track was added shortly thereafter, making this one of the first Swiss-made sound films. About 25-30 minutes in length, it was intended to accompany Alfred Chapuis & Eduard Gélis’ foundational 2 volume book by the same title, and documents some extremely rare automata plus a truly unique mechanical musical instrument, the Violinista by Boreau & Aubry (1918-22), in action. A fabulous historical document!

The idea for a convention stemmed from the fellowship shown on the Automata / Automaton Group and Mechanical Adventures group on Facebook. The true value of the convention will be the relationships built and knowledge shared when passionate people of common interest come together. As such, the success of the convention will depend on the attendees themselves. In the end, we are optimistic that great things will come. Please join the Facebook event page for the latest news on the convention.

Visit the event website for more details and to make your reservations.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Automaton clock depicts the goddess Diana on her chariot

Take a look at this antique automaton clock which depicts the goddess Diana on her chariot. The piece -- made around 1610 in Augsburg, Germany -- was recently recovered from storage. The automaton is made from gilt bronze and silver with an enameled dial. The case is ebony and gilt bronze and the movement itself is iron and brass. What a find!

From the video description:

Probably drawing inspiration from contemporary prints, the clock portrays the Roman goddess of the hunt, Diana, on a chariot pulled by two leopards. Precious clocks like this were collaborative enterprises among goldsmiths, sculptors, clockmakers, engravers, and even cabinetmakers. They were important status symbols in European courts, representative of the most cutting-edge technology of their time, and they were often used as diplomatic gifts. This clock—which has been recently restored and is now on view in the European art galleries—is also a table carriage, a lavish form of tabletop entertainment during banquets. This short video unveils the highly sophisticated inner mechanism of the clock, delicate parts that are otherwise hidden from view and are remarkably still in tact.

In the video above, we get a sampling of the movements and sounds the clock makes when wound and set running, including the Diana figure shooting her bow. Rare and valuable devices such as this were often used as entertainment by the elites of time. This one may well have been incorporated into a game played at the dinning table.

On loan from Yale University Art Gallery, the automaton clock is part of The Luxury of Time: European Clocks and Watches exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Via a post on Hyperallergic

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Sunday, January 03, 2016

Lovely wall-mounted kinetic sculpture featuring koi fish

Check out this lovely wall-mounted kinetic sculpture featuring koi fish with moving fins. The piece was created by Yasemin Sayibas Akyuz.

From the artist's web site:

I illustrated it on the computer and created a prototype first. And cut the main parts in CNC, then used my old friend the Dremel tool for detailed work, and painted it in acrylic. Automata featuring koi fish fish have a very long history in Chinese and Japanese culture.

Yaz explains that creating hand-crafted automata allows her to combine mechanical engineering, graphic design, painting, puppet making, and sculpting skills. Surely she has done just that with this wonderful piece.

You can see more work by Yasemin Sayibas Akyuz on her web site.

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