Saturday, January 07, 2006

Strasbourg Automata Clock

This week I was invited to give a talk on the evolution of complexity at the "Faculté de Géographie et d'aménagement" (Louis Pasteur University) in Strasbourg (Thanks to Christiane Rolland-May and her team). It was also an opportunityto take a picture of its famous astronomical clock. The Strasbourg cathedral clock has a long history. The first clock was built in around 1352. It was replaced in 1547 but due to the religious turmoil of the time, the work was not completed until some thirty years later. Some modifications and work took place again in the 19th century.
The clock includes a collection of automata: a cherub turningan hour glass, another hitting a gong and a figurative representationof the four ages of man. It represents an important step in the history of artificial creatures before the Lumière century and the automata designed by Jacques de Vaucanson in France and the Jaquet Droz in Switzerland. I am finishing to write a reference book on the history of artificial creatures: near 800 pages and more than 200 illustrations ! More information soon...

1 comment:

LePireDesBlogs said...

Cette cathédrale se dresse comme un dieu de grès rose, comme un fantôme de la foret dite noire. Comme il est étrange, bien que ce soit un classique, de voir à quel point, pour les atteindre, les hommes ont élever des hauteurs ciselées pour parler à Dieu!D'égal à égal? Eternelle histoire... Mais cette cathédrale presque impensable, qui abrite en son sein - et c'est le moins que puisse faire une cathédrale, non? - une horloge d'automate - dont la Mort arbitre de façon explicite les rouages- reste la représentaon du défi humain et de son inutilité.

Next time in English, I promise.