A Blog Post Wherein I Am Absolutely Fascinated By Mechanical Movements

A Blog Post Wherein I Am Absolutely Fascinated By Mechanical Movements

When was the last time you interacted with a machine? 30 seconds ago. But I bet you, that “machine” was actually an electronic of some sort, or rather, a computer. The age of mechanical movements, and machined parts is dying… completely being replaced by fly by wire computer controlled systems that take the physical machine movements out of our every day lives. Obviously this is a good thing, because it makes the world safer, and faster, and better. But sometimes we should mourn the gradual death of the real… and notice the passing of this steam and coal driven era. Clockwork intricacies really are a beautiful science and art that should still be heralded even in the day of the Apple Watch and Fitbit efficiencies.

Which brings me to two very specific pieces of mechanical brilliance I have got to laud. The first one I have talked about wanting here before. But these specific examples by Juan Fontanive are such gorgeous installations of art and cogs I couldn’t pass on showing them to you.

“Juan Fontanive creates machines that combine moving images with clockwork mechanisms. His hand-made screens and metal structures are deeply influenced by the moving image — from shutters and reels to illusory flickering. Responding to the lack of movement found in our current electronics age, he is interested in actual movement in relation to virtual. His machines long to free images; they combine to form a medium in themselves exploring the vividness of living things.”

Oh the humanity! The cogs man! The flipping koi! This is epic stuff here. And that the animations are linked to each other?!? Hahah, this just flips all of my switches, simultaneously. Just amazing. There is so much steam punk in this one idea I don’t know what to do with myself. I hacked this video and have it continuously playing on my desktop – sound and all – over, and over, and over again. I think it does for me what the sound of ocean waves might do for someone else. I think? I’m not normal, so what do I know. All I know is that when this video is looping I feel like everything in the world is righted. I personally would love to do a flip animation of a whale leaping out of the ocean, breaching, and then crashing back into the waves. Over and over again. Something like this:


Which would be hard to do in the small window – but doable.

But you know what? Our search for cogification only gets better from here. Derek Hugger is a mechanical magician. Of this I am certain. He does things with wood, pistons, and mechanics that I’ve never seen before. Derek’s latest project is the creation of a… and I quote here… “an organic motion sculpture”. Seriously? If this guy can design like he can market he can have all my money now. But watch this video and you’ll see what I mean.

COLABRIDerek sells his detailed “organic motion sculpture” plans for a hundred bucks a pop. Which is pretty impressive. Did I mention I sell bunny hutch plans for 3 bucks? hahahah. No really, I do. (Which, as a side note, I finally tore it down after a raccoon got into the yard and went to town. But seeing as though I made 5 times what it cost me to make that hutch… I came out smelling like a rose on that particular exchange. Now I have to figure out how to make the cats start paying for themselves. Never gonna happen.) But I’m guessing his plans are way more than 30 times more valuable than mine. I mean look at these things!

The woodworking skills necessary to pull these plans off are daunting in the extreme. But what do you expect? It’s a hummingbird for heaven’s sake.

His plans even explain the different milling techniques and even goes through how best to drill and shape these pieces. They are beyond intricate. Here are some really close photos of the end result when it is completed (if I don’t build it that is.)