August 22, 2011

Automata Mr. Robata

Hugo Cabret
Wow!  I just finished reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.  It's part graphic novel, children's book, mystery, history and flipbook.  I read it from start to finish because it was so wonderful - thank goodness for lazy Sundays!  And a movie adaptation directed by Martin Scorsese is coming out in the fall so I won't have to wait too long to see it in all its 3D Hollywood glory!  Fingers crossed that it does the book a fraction of justice.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is about an orphan boy who lives alone in a Paris train station with his one valued possession - a mysterious automaton.  I won't say anything more because the book is so magical and it will take you places that you wouldn't expect.  Also, don't even try to "google" it.  Google's autocomplete is really good for revealing key plot points.  I learned that the hard way when I googled One Day by Dave Nicholls.  DON'T DO IT!!  Anyways, it's safe to say that there is an automaton in The Invention of Hugo Cabret so we'll just stay on that.


Automata are self-operating machines that perform a set of movements through a series of intricate clockwork.  Some of history's well known automata were known to play the flute, walk, write poems and draw pictures all in very fluid and lifelike movements.  These automata were the perfect example of the fine balance of art and technical ability.  I just love that a series of movements can be created by pure mechanical elements yet also be so elegant and inspire creativity.  There is nothing electronic or chemical about it and each mechanism is dependent on the other.  As I researched more into modern automata, I found that there is quite a large following for fun paper automata for purchase and download.  Here are a few that caught my eye:

Paper automata






(1. Climbing Piggy Bank by Keisuke Saka, 2. Stormy Sea by Walter Ruffler, 3. Leaping Goat by Rob Ives Flying Pig, 4. T-Rex by Rob Ives Flying Pig, 5. Fish by Keisuke Saka) 

Are you inspired?  I'm getting out the paper and scissors!

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