The automaton, early robot or über-puppet?

July 22, 2013

Still from Kirsty Boyle’s video Ningyo. The artist and the mechanism of a ningyo (puppet, person or effigy)
Still from Kirsty Boyle’s video Ningyo. In a grainy video shot to convey memory or recollection, the artist and the mechanism of a ningyo (puppet, person or effigy)

As one of the three ISEA2013 exhibitions closes this week, I found myself reflecting on the artworks and wondering at the possible connections to our collection.  One of the most unusual works to experience in Synapse | a selection was Kirsty Boyle’s video Ningyo. In a grainy video shot to convey memory or recollection, the artist and the mechanism of a ningyo (translated as puppet, person or effigy from Japanese) are depicted in close association with each other. Over 8 minutes, Boyle coddles, plays with and eventually demonstrates how the mechanisms of the ningyo work.

While looking through our Museum database, I found that we house a few interesting automata of our own. These objects range from a very vocal looking a horse race cabinet containing 12 discs of music to an H5043, Bird automaton fitted with clock and musical movement, comprised of 8 birds in a tree and rock setting., 1885 - 1895. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

H5043, Bird automaton fitted with clock and musical movement, comprised of 8 birds in a tree and rock setting., 1885 – 1895. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

The stand out for me is one titled ‘Robot, dog, Aibo, Entertainment Robot ERS-110 / Motion Editor ERF-510, in original packaging with accessories, software and manuals, paper / plastic / electronic components / lithium ion chemical cells / metal / rubber, Sony Corporation, Japan, 1999 l

Robot, dog, Aibo, Entertainment Robot ERS-110 / Motion Editor ERF-510, in original packaging with accessories, Sony Corporation, Japan, 1999. 2000/12/1 Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Perhaps the http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/hsc/aibo/origins.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automaton

Written by Deborah Turnbull, assistant curator

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