Thursday, May 15, 2008

Swan Lake

The Silver Swan is an automaton from the 1700s, and is kept in England's Bowes Museum.

This description is from the Wikipedia entry:

"The swan, which is life size, is a clockwork driven device that includes a music box. The swan sits in a "stream" that is made of glass rods and is surrounded by silver leaves. Small silver fish can be seen "swimming" in the stream. When the clockwork is wound the music box plays and the glass rods rotate giving the illusion of flowing water. The swan turns its head from side to side and also preens itself. After a few moments the swan notices the swimming fish and bends down to catch and eat one. The swans head then returns to the upright position and the performance, which has lasted about 40 seconds, is over. To help preserve the mechanism the swan is only operated twice a day."

Here, you can see a video of the Swan's performance, and even better, the enraptured wonder of the viewers in the background. Such art, technology, craftsmanship, and flawless motion are spectacular, especially considering it runs on clockwork and was created over 200 years ago!

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