I recently watched The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes and the only conclusion I came to was that Amira Casar is gawjus. Everything else: lol wut? I didn’t know what was going on and figured I was missing all the references. Sho ’nuff, there were several references to real people that are apparently pretty obvious if you’re in the know (and I certainly wasn’t) – the villain, if you will, is named Dr. Droz and in the film kills and kidnaps an opera singer with the intention of turning her re-animated corpse into a sort of automated singing machine. This is a direct reference to Pierre Jaquet-Droz, a watchmaker in the late 1700s who created various automatons. The “Jaquet-Droz Automata” refers to a collection of three particularly intricate automatons: The musician, the drawer and the writer.
This is directly lifted from the wiki article, reposted here for your convenience (all emphasis is mine):
The musician is a female organ player. The music is not faked, in the sense that it is not recorded or played by a musical box: the doll is actually playing a genuine (yet custom-built) instrument by pressing the keys with her fingers. She “breathes” (the movements of the chest can be seen), follows her fingers with her head and eyes, and also makes some of the movements that a real player would do — balancing the torso for instance.
The drawer is a young child who can actually draw four different images: a portrait of Louis XV, a royal couple (believed to be Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI), a dog with “Mon toutou” (“my doggy”) written beside it, and a scene of Cupid driving a chariot pulled by a butterfly. The drawer works by using a system of cams which code the movements of the hand in two dimensions, plus one to lift the pencil. The automaton also moves on his chair, and he periodically blows on the pencil to remove dust.
The writer is the most complex of the three automata. Using a system similar to the one used for the Drawer for each letter, he is able to write any custom text up to 40 letters long (the text is rarely changed; one of the latest instances was in honour of president François Mitterrand when he toured the city). The text is coded on a wheel where characters are selected one by one. He uses a goose feather to write, which he inks from time to time, including a shake of the wrist to prevent ink from spilling. His eyes follow the text being written, and the head moves when he takes some ink.
These were built in the late 1700s and are considered remote ancestors to the modern computer. I really have no commentary except WHAT. THAT IS AMAZING. And a little creepy. There’s something particularly charming and strange about these automated things – they seem like little humans that just happen to be mechanical (as opposed to modern robots that are pure SCIENCE!) – especially when you consider the care put into their movements (chest rising and falling; blowing on the pencil, etc). At least that’s the distinction I make in my mind; not sure if it’s “correct” or not.
Someday I’ll see them (they’re in Switzerland, boo). And once I’m done doing my homework, I’ll probably watch The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes again. It’s a beautiful film so I certainly didn’t mind watching it, I was just uhhh confused.
In other news, I spent all evening doodling but came away with nothing. Oh well! Hopefully more art journal nonsense to come later…