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Dreams That Money Can Buy / Digesting Automatons

In Art, Cinema, Dreams, Industry, Surrealism, Technology on December 1, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Dreams That Money Can Buy is a 1947 American experimental feature color film written, produced, and directed by surrealist artist and dada film-theorist Hans Richter.  Collaborators included Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Alexander Calder, Darius Milhaud and Fernand Léger.

Oh Venus was born out of sea foam

Oh Venus was born out of brine

But a goddess today if she is Grade A

Is assembled upon the assembly line

Her chromium nerves and her platinum brain

Were chastely encased in cellophane

She was equipped with a prefabricated heart

Mannequins and robots seem intimately connected, but what exactly is their relation?  Would you say that the former is the ancestor of the latter?  Are they synonymous twins born from the same human desire, or do they satisfy different longings?  A robot may not be anthropomorphic, but a mannequin must seem human.  Mannequins are always artificial, but are robots artificial only when they feign organic nature?

The Canard Digérateur, or Digesting Duck, was an automaton in the form of a duck, created by Jacques de Vaucanson in 1739. The mechanical duck appeared to have the ability to eat kernels of grain, and to metabolize and defecate them. While the duck did not actually have the ability to do this – the food was collected in one inner container, and the pre-stored feces was ‘produced’ from a second, so that no actual digestion took place – Vaucanson hoped that a truly digesting automaton could one day be designed.

Voltaire wrote that “without […] the duck of Vaucanson, you have nothing to remind you of the glory of France.” (“Sans…le canard de Vaucanson vous n’auriez rien qui fit ressouvenir de la gloire de la France.”)

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  1. PS. Voltaire was but a consummate satirist.

  2. The website listed — perfect-woman.com — loads as the french site for Philips Razors (rasoirs)… best viral marketing ever?

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