Welcome to this blog which is dedicated to providing a forum for a civil discourse on a variety of issues to try and make our society a truly better place for all. While the views expressed are strictly my personal opinions, please feel free to join in on these conversations accepting the premises that every attempt will be made to ensure that nothing but the truth be spoken and the truth be heard.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Meet the New Alexander Pushkin

As the old saying goes, "Life is full of surprises", and I was richly treated to an extraordinary one this past weekend while visiting my son and his family in California and being his guest at a most unusual and unique event (thus the reason for no new post on Sunday).  The occasion was the unveiling of an amazing creation by one of the many brilliant Silicon Valley innovators who, out of respect for his desire to remain nameless shall be referred to as Mr. X, collaborated with Francois Junod, considered one of the world's foremost builders of automates.  As defined by Ron Decourte in February 2005, "an automate is a combination of art, sculpture and mechanics used to create articulated, moving models resembling life and fantasy in all its forms".  To learn more about Monsieur Junod and his dazzling art form, please go to http://www.francoisjunod.com/index.php?id=539.  

Briefly, as I understood from the presentation, Mr. X's idea was to utilize the well-known, old world watch-making skills of the Swiss to construct a mechanical replica of a known poet from history which would be able to compose and illustrate randomly generated short poems.  In addition this particular creation would be able to actually hand write multiple variations of these poems in the exact font of the original person, while previous automatons of this type have always been limited to writing just one repetitive sentence over and over in some standard font.  To accomplish this feat this automaton would rely totally on a series of intricate gears that would be energized solely by winding mechanisms much like antique wall clocks which would be able, in the exact words of the invitation, "....to implement through purely mechanical means a grammar, a random number generator, a motion memory bank, and a memory address offset calculator".  As such, no electrical sources, batteries or microchips of any kind would be used.  While seemingly simple in concept, I cannot begin to relay the enormity of the many difficult challenges that were encountered in this project, not the least of which was a communication problem in the beginning between Mr. X and Monsieur Junod.  In fact this obstacle was eventually solved by Mr. X writing a complex computer program to generate a rotating three dimensional model of exactly what he wanted.  Then there were the added difficulties with physics, mass, size, weight, friction, etc., as well as just the practical aspects of hand crafting every one of the almost 3,500 mainly movable parts.  And, finally, the exact physical features and period dress of the chosen poet had to be duplicated.  Remarkably, all of this highly technical and complex development was driven strictly out of intellectual curiosity, as no commercial purpose is intended.   

The end result of all this effort was the birth of the new Alexander Pushkin who you will meet in a moment.  As a point of reference, the original Alexander Pushkin, born in Moscow in 1799, was Russia's premier poet and the first to use everyday speech in his poems.  Also, he was one of the founders of modern Russian literature, and died in 1837 (learn more at http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/puskin.htm).  The new Mr. Pushkin, conceived in a factory in Switzerland in 2003 but actually born only just this year, is approximately 45% of his namesake's size, has no heart, no brain, no sight, no hearing or other bodily functions whatsoever but can create poetry just the same.  I was privileged to watch him do it firsthand, but now thanks to the wonderful world of technology you can also enjoy his marvelous creativity, as well as observe his internal mechanizations, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivIHcHwR6b0.  You will be richly rewarded, too, so enjoy!

Laura Raborn at http://paintingsofhome.com and http://claygifts.com 
Jim Johnson at http://yessy.com/jimjohnson/gallery.html 
Russ Powell at http://powellphotos.com 
Linda Flake at http://lindaflake.com 
Tom Herrin at http://tommysart.blogspot.com 
Matt McLeod at http://matt@mattmcleod.com 
Artists Registry at http://www.arkansasarts.org/programs/registry/default.aspx
Sandy Hubler Fine Art at http://sandyhublerfineart.com
George Wittenberg at http://postcard-art-gallery.com  
Will Barnet at http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&expIds=17259,17315,23628,23670,24472,25834,26095,26328,26562,26637,26761,26790,26849,26992,27095,27126,27139,27147,27178&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=will+barnet&cp=9&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=xpfETMT1O4L6lwf66ugE&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=2&sqi=2&ved=0CEkQsAQwAQ&biw=1350&bih=501

Local Colour Gallery at http://localcolourgallery.com
Chroma Gallery at http://chromagallery.com
Cantrell Gallery at http://cantrellgallery.com
Greg Thompson Fine Art at http://gregthompsonfineart.com
Red Door Gallery at http://reddoorgalleryonline.com 
M2 Gallery at http://m2lr.com
UALR Gallery Program at http://ualr.edu/art
Gallery 26 at http://gallery26.com 
Boswell Mourot Fine Art at http://boswellmourot.com

NOTE:  Regular weekly postings will resume on Sunday, November 21st, with the exception of December 26th following Christmas Day.