I’ve been fascinated with automata ever since playing Syberia and reading Gaby Wood’s intriguing (if not occasionally out-of-focus) book “Edison’s Eve” nearly 10 years ago. There’s just something weird and peculiar about automata that goes beyond your average robots. I think it’s because most are meant to imitate human life, and often do so in very uncanny ways.
These hand-cranked, clockwork machines have recently garnered mainstream attention thanks to the film Hugo, and the above video is a short tour of the works of Dug North, who appeared in one of the movie’s behind-the-scenes features.
In it, you can see a variety of North’s automata, including a monster that pops out of a top hat, and a beast reminiscent of King Kong fighting to escape his shackles. “My work is more of a contemporary form of automata,” North says, “there is a hand crank in which you actually turn the mechanism, and bring the thing to life that way.”