flesh machine II

Jacques de Vaucanson (1709 – 1782) is credited with having constructed the worlds first robots. His Canard Digérateur from 1738 could move its wings, stand up and sit down, prune itself, drink water, eat and poop, using methods claimed by Vaucason to be copied from nature. However, no real digestion was taking place.

You can see the influence on art and culture these inventions had in for instance E.T.A Hoffmann’s Der Sandman from 1816, where the lead character falls in love with an automaton, mistaking it for a real person. In Mary Shelleys Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) the scientist Frankenstein attempts to build a sort of super human, but ends up creating a monster in stead. And in H.C. Andersens The Nightingale from 1843, everybody’s fascinated by the glitter of the jewel-encrusted clockwork nightingale, which is however unable to soothe the dying emperor.

In these stories science is seen as sort of a corrupter, causing man to think he can replace god as creator, replacing soulful things with hollow (almost evil) fakes.

One thought on “flesh machine II

  1. Pingback: Mimesis and Photography « Eyes Wide Shut

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