Tag Archives: automata

Manually Cranked Wood Toy Performs Sleight-of-hand Magic 

automata

Designed by Swedish artist Per Helldorff, this amazing little wooden automata performs magic with three cups and a ball that seems to teleport before your very eyes with the wind of simple crank. I guess it’s somewhat obvious a few cleverly placed magnets are causing everything to happen, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to watch. (via colossal submissions)

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A 120-Year-Old Mechanical Device that Perfectly Mimics the Song of a Bird 

Get out the headphones or turn up your speakers and prepare to be impressed by archaic 19th century engineering. Relying on dozens of moving parts including gears, springs, and a bellows, this small contraption built in 1890 was designed to do one thing: perfectly mimic the random chatter of a song bird. At first I expected to hear a simple repeating pattern of tweets, but the sounds produced by the mechanism are actually quite complex and vary in pitch, tone, and even volume to create a completely realistic song. I think if you closed your eyes you might not be able to tell the difference between this and actual birdsong. It’s believed the machine was built 120 years ago in Paris by Blaise Bontems, a well-known maker of bird automata and was recently refurbished by Michael Start over at The House of Automata. Can any of you ornithologists identify the bird? If so, get in touch. (via the automata blog)

Update: And if you liked that, check out this pair of matching signing bird pistols that sold at auction last year for $5.8 million.

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Wonder Object: Playful Mechanized Objects by Gary Schott 

I was unexpectedly delighted by this documentary short on jeweler, artist, and metalsmith Gary Schott who creates these small kinetic sculptures that produce tiny, intimate gestures. The attention to detail in each piece is astounding, from the early detailed sketches and balsa wood models, to the selection of materials, and even the color of fabric—all to create a tiny device, the sole purpose of which is to gently evoke a smile, to express, in the words of the artist, an action of love. The wonderfully produced video was shot and edited by husband and wife filmmakers Mark and Angela Walley of Walley Films out of San Antonio, Texas. (via junk culture)

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