Monday, January 14, 2008

Once the instrument is created...

In most of my work I look for the synergy between art and the science of materials, technology and other disciplines. Nowhere do I find more inspiration and practical wisdom, as in the writings and sketches of Leonardo, whose brilliant engineering mind created the scaffolding for some of the most enduring artifacts of our world.

In particular, his studies on the “anatomy of machines” has been instrumental in providing me and countless others with detailed explanations and solutions to the many problems associated with complex mechanical and “life-like” movements required in robotic-puppetry work.

In his Trattato degli elementi macchinali, (Madrid Ms.) Leonardo goes into great detail analyzing a great number of mechanical components which he regarded as the “organs” of machines. In a series of superb illustrations of such mechanisms we can see and study not only the solutions but the process of creation of his extraordinary mind.

Leonardo applied the same systematic analysis of machines to human and animal bodies thus abstracting and clarifying principles of geometry, movement and force, using quantitative methods to study their performance and deriving from such studies innumerable mechanisms which are a constant source of inspiration and function, in many cases as a conceptual blueprint, like this anatomical drawing of the base of the skull, which resembles the gravity and elastic driven mechanism of my puppet "Pancho" leg joints.

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