A little while ago, Worm introduced me to a rather unique website where I duly adopted the word ‘drollic’ (pertaining to puppet shows). My trend forecaster’s intuition was obviously spot on, as this turned out to be a curiously appropriate choice…
Although some of us are mere dabblers, with an unaccountable desire to create meaningless stuff for our personal pleasure, tinkerers are the very reason that everything drollic is rapidly gaining iconic superstar style status.
No surprise then that the centerpiece of The London Design Festival should be a remotely controlled display of robots (courtesy of Audi automotive) in London’s Trafalgar Square. Perhaps Mayor Boris was inspired by ancient Greece, where automata weren’t simply toys, they were also tools for demonstrating basic scientific principles. The most famous automaton inventor was Hero of Alexandria, a Greek mathematician, whose designs included a fire engine and… a water organ.
I’ve never attempted to make an automaton myself, though I’ve been known to dabble at many other things. However, there are plenty of websites showcasing pieces by fanatically talented designer-makers and their weirdly thought provoking works of art:
Prolific designer, Paul Spooner, whose work is featured on the fascinating Cabaret – Mechanical Theatre website says, “Robots are usually employed to perform tasks that human beings find too dirty, dangerous or tedious to undertake themselves. Many modern women ﬁnd breast feeding an irksome chore and now that most village girls have their sights set on more glamourous careers than wet-nursing, the new lactating robot is set to ﬁll a niche. So far these wet-nursing androids have found favour with only the laziest, most self-absorbed and narcissistic of customers. Bundled with the hardware is a software package that enables the machine to locate, adopt and ship children from foreign countries.
Codenamed ‘The Mother of Invention’ it is marketed as ‘A Novel Transmission’ partly to gratify those men who are interested in the mechanical workings of our products. The mechanism, drawings of which can be seen on p. 270, vol 3 of “Ingenious Mechanisms for Designers and Inventors”, Industrial Press, NY, 1951, was chosen for its simplicity and ability to deliver a relentless reciprocating action under arduous conditions of service.”
I guess you’re thinking this is all very drollic… But, has anyone got a more inventive design idea for an automaton?