Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Musical automaton ring with moving figures

Musical automaton ring with moving figures
Now here is a unique piece. This antique ring is an automaton with moving figures built into it! Granted, I don't fully understand how you operate the ring, but the mere concept is unspeakably cool.

From the eBay item description:
This is a very fine and unusual 18K gold mechanical ring with a moving woman and men are playing a song by turning a crank. The background is fine glazed. The ring is in a beautiful and working condition from Isaac Daniel Piguet, Genève, circa 1805.

Here is a link to the full listing for the Musical automaton ring with moving figures.


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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Junod's Wonderland - video of a true master

A wonderful video with English translations profiling a modern master of classic automata. I'm so glad people like Francois Junod and his team still exist.

From the YouTube description:
Swiss artist Francois Junod has changed the automaton into a new art form. He calls his unique creations androids - mechanical robots designed to resemble humans in both appearance and behaviour. (swissinfo, Julie Hunt) visited his studio in St Croix, in the Jura mountains.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

L'Homme Serpent automaton by Michel Bertrand

L'Homme Serpent automaton by Michel Bertrand
Inspired by a Vichy model, this acrobat automaton was created by Michel Bertrand of Switzerland in 1990. Bertrand used many original Vichy/Triboulet parts including the sculpted head, the ingenious torso mechanism, and a six-tune musical movement.

From the auction listing description:
He lies on his stomach upon the table which swivels as he makes a scissor movement with his legs while nodding his head. He then raises his legs. The table swivels again. He raises his head, lifts his stomach off the table and arches his back in an amazing contortionist manner, with his legs raised high. He repeats the scissor movement before lowering himself back onto the table and scissoring his legs once more in the horizontal position.

An amazing piece with a strong and prestigious lineage.

Here is the full auction listing for The Serpent Man, L'Homme Serpent automaton.


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Saturday, August 02, 2008

In the Workshop of a Magician, Francois Junod


Francois Junod is an automatier located in Ste-Croix, Switzerland. He is one of very few automata-makers still making and restoring them in the finest of the old watch-maker tradition. Here is short film featuring him and his workshop. Granted, you will get more out of the film if you know French. Regardless, the shots of the internal mechanisms are awe inspiring.

Here is a link to an older article about Francois in English. Also, here is the link to his web site.

[ Thanks Falk! ]


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Friday, June 06, 2008

Miniature Robot that Jumps Like a Cricket

Miniature Robot that Jumps Like a Cricket
If you missed this little locust-inspired robot on the Make Magazine Blog today, you have got to check this out.

The snail cam is not just for automata anymore!

Here is a link to a Quicktime video of the cricket robot created by the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Jaquet-Droz Writing Automaton: First Computer?

Here is nice video of the internal mechanism of Pierre Jaquet-Droz's writing automaton.

The text to be written by the automaton could be programmed. By some people's definition, The Writer is an early -- perhaps the first -- version of the computer, having an input method, programmable instructions, and an output display.

Computer or no, this is a work of unparalleled craftsmanship. That it still works today, hundreds of years later is a testament to its excellent design and construction.

This and two other Jacquet-Droz automata are on display at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire of Neuchâtel, in Switzerland.

This video is from TIL Productions, by Director Philippe Sayous of www.automates-anciens.com

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Musee Baud: Automata & Mechanical Music

Comprised of pieces crafted between 1750 and 1940, the Musée Buad in l'Auberson, Switzerland looks like a wonderful museum. If you cannot visit in person, their web site offers a history of the museum, nice photographs of the the collection, audio recordings of music, and a shop that sells music boxes and automata.

From the Musée Baud site:
In our first room you will find music boxes, automata, clocks, singing birds, animated pictures and gramophones as well as other accessories, tools and souvenirs of the time period.

In our second room, one can admire the grandeur of our larger pieces while listening to these unique, priceless, mechanical musical instruments. Among the highlights include the famous "Maesto", an orchestra from 1900 comprised of 10 different instruments. Also in this room is the splendid "Phonolistz Violiona" playing solo violin.


Visit the Musée Buad web site (available in French, German, and English). [Thanks Falk!]

To learn more about mechanical music machines, check out The Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments.

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