Locked in the circuitry

Harvey Moon’s drawing machine is the latest in a long line of artistic automatons. The device essentially works from photographs, and Moon claims inspiration from Hektor, ‘the Spray-Paint Output Device,’ but there have been similar machines throughout history (although some, like Joseph L.Griffith’s drawing machine aren’t in fact autonomous, and owe more to a mixture of D.Hirst and W.Heath Robinson than traditional robotics – and there’s a whole Vimeo channel devoted to adhoc drawing machines and other string-based contraptions).


Another recently evolved drawing robot is The Aikon Project developed by Patrick Tresset. Aikon, the ‘robotic Reubens‘, which combines facial recognition with a robotic arm, all part of a project to understand the nature of creativity. Aikon, ‘an obsessive drawing entity’ is now in its second iteration.


Related, Maillardet’s Automaton, ‘the “Draughtsman-Writer” … built by Henri Maillardet, a Swiss mechanician of the 18th century who worked in London producing clocks and other mechanisms. It is believed that Maillardet built this extraordinary Automaton around 1800 and it has the largest “memory” of any such machine ever constructed—four drawings and three poems (two in French and one in English).’


The New French Hacker-Artist Underground, Jon Lackman’s story about the perennially fascinating Paris’s subterranean UX (‘Urban eXperiment’) organisation: ‘Based on members’ interests, UX has developed a cellular structure, with subgroups specializing in cartography, infiltration, tunneling, masonry, internal communications, archiving, restoration, and cultural programming. Its 100-odd members are free to change roles and are given access to all tools at the group’s disposal. There is no manifesto, no charter, no bylaws—save that all members preserve its secrecy.’ A UX splinter group – the Untergunther – famously restored the Panthéon clock in 2006. Add the last two strands together and you get Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

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