Archive for the automata Category

Creeping Baby Doll 1871

Posted in antiques, automata, dolls with tags , , on April 1, 2014 by shewalkssoftly

In 1871 came one of the first automata to appear in the toy scene, patented by Robert J. Clay. You can find more about it here.


My favorite paragraph about the piece is the following:

Despite Clay’s belief that his toy would be very amusing, it had limited appeal for its target audience of little girls. It looks scary, weighs a lot and isn’t particularly interactive. It’s more of an exhibition piece than a cuddly toy, and once the mechanism broke (which happened often with the earlier models), its heaviness and hardness made it a dead weight rather than a doll that could be integrated into regular play.


I wonder how many of these clumsily creeping wonders were mass produced. Two decades later, the world was graced with Edison’s Talking Doll.

The Dying Drunkard Automaton

Posted in antiques, automata, macabre with tags , , on January 2, 2014 by shewalkssoftly

This is an incredible piece located in The House on the Rock; a…shall we say, quite unique…coin operated tableau made in 1870.

Cannot type/talk due to severe illness (all words courtesy of voice software or kind typing helpers)…I read and appreciate all comments…Apologies for not being able to respond.

Valentine’s Day Countdown: Thomas Kuntz’s Spooky Love

Posted in art, automata, Books, death, macabre, music, retro, sculpture, technology, valentine's day, video on February 11, 2013 by bettiemuldoon

Posted by proxy from Dana’s “stuff to blog” queue while she is on medical hiatus. She reads and appreciates all comments…and apologizes for not being able to respond at the moment.

Thomas Kuntz has been touted on this blog before. The automatons this Haxanthrobaticist creates go beyond artistry and technology. This one is very fitting for Valentine’s Day.

See more of Thomas Kuntz.

The Roentgens’ Berlin Secretary Cabinet

Posted in antiques, automata, furniture, museums, video on January 17, 2013 by bettiemuldoon

Posted by proxy from Dana’s “stuff to blog” queue while she is on medical hiatus. She reads and appreciates all comments…and apologizes for not being able to respond at the moment.

(words below taken from the site)

Discover the hidden features and intricate interior of this cabinet.

One of the finest achievements of European furniture making, this cabinet is the most important product from Abraham (1711–1793) and David Roentgen’s (1743–1807) workshop. A writing cabinet crowned with a chiming clock, it features finely designed marquetry panels and elaborate mechanisms that allow for doors and drawers to be opened automatically at the touch of a button. Owned by King Frederick William II, the Berlin cabinet is uniquely remarkable for its ornate decoration, mechanical complexity, and sheer size.

This cabinet is from Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and is on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the exhibition Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens:

Footage courtesy of VideoART GmbH and Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Vintage Lab Week: Metropolis

Posted in automata, film, robots, sci-fi, science on August 31, 2012 by 13hearseman13

Little introduction is needed for Metropolis, a 1927 film by Fritz Lang; written by his wife Thea von Harbou. Complete with a futuristic city set only 100 years in the future, this science fiction morality tale features amazing alchemical laboratory sets. The neon lighting is a great touch.

Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) is a scientist ordered by the master of the city, Joh Fredersen (Alfred Abel), to make a robot doppelganger of Maria (Brigitte Helm). Maria’s spirit transcends the class system–by sending a robot imposter back to the oppressed working class, the master of the city hopes to suppress an uprising. Rotwang has some really great neon light accented minimal lab sets.

Joh Fredersen, Rotwang and robot.



Sparse laboratory where the real Maria is encased–her form will be transferred onto the robot through Alchemy and Science!



Totally tubular!


A flick of the switch…








Rotwang with the fleshed-out Robot Maria.



Mad Science at work!

Hye Yeon Nam: Please Smile

Posted in automata, installations, robots, sculpture, technology with tags , , , , on June 23, 2012 by shewalkssoftly

What an interesting interactive installation…

From the website:
Please Smile is an exhibit involving five robotic skeleton arms that change their gestures depending on a viewer’s facial expressions. It consists of a microcontroller, a camera, a computer, five external power supplies, and five plastic skeleton arms, each with four motors. It incorporated elements from mechanical engineering, computer vision perception to serve artistic expression with a robot.

Audiences interact with “Please smile” in three different ways. When no human falls within the view of the camera, the five robotic skeleton arms choose the default position, which is bending their elbows and wrists near the wall. When a human steps within the view of the camera, the arms point at the human and follow his/her movements. Then when someone smiles in front of it, the five arms wave their hands. Through artwork such as “Please smile,” I would like to foster positive audience behaviors.


Haunted House Automaton

Posted in automata, craft, undead with tags , , on June 9, 2012 by shewalkssoftly

When I posted about the Mortuary Automaton, a kind reader linked me to this awesome Haunted House Automaton, supposedly from the Edinburgh Museum of Childhood.

Too bad the picture is so small because there’s some cool stuff going on here. I tried to find other videos on youtube to no avail, and googled a bit. In my humble opinion, “Haunted House Automaton” should yield many more results.