Automata in Modern Times

Dug North

The ability to use mechanics to represent the human form continues to fascinate modern society. Today Automata has moved away from focussing on technological sophistication and instead the subject is now emerging as a modern form of art. Indeed it is artists who are now the foremost producers of Automata, and they frequently sell their works through their own websites, facebook pages, Ebay, etc.

Although public spaces for showing this type of art are few and far between, The MAD Museum features a number of fascinating works by some of these modern-day creators.

John Morgan

Carlos Zapata

Automata still generates significant interest and it is not uncommon to hear of early examples being sold at auction for extremely sums of money. A great deal of material on the subject exists in the form of books, documentaries, as well as online.

School pupils now also have the opportunity to study the subject, and perhaps even devise and build their own machines due to Automata’s presence on the school curriculum within the subject of Design & Technology.

Philip Lowndes

Despite many advances in technology over time, and perhaps in particular over the last century, many modern products still firmly have their roots in Automata. Toys which we see nowadays using gears and motors still rely on the mechanical principles which were discovered thousands of years previously, whilst it is clear that complex Automatons made by the likes of Jacquet-Droz and Maillardet were essentially the earliest forms of computers.

Wanda Sowry

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