Uncanny: This 19th Century Automaton Will Give You Nightmares

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The uncanny valley can be a terrifying place – a place of strange dolls, unsettling computer animation, and people who just look off. But how deep does the valley go?

I think I may have found the bottom.

Cast your gaze upon the creature in the above video. Its face and eyes are eerily realistic, but the bizarre automaton seems trapped in a happy delirium. Is this the stuff nightmares are made of?

I originally saw this video posted on a Facebook community. However, after some digging, I was able to find the original, clearer HD version on YouTube. It was uploaded back in 2012 by 69mechanik, with a link to The House Of Automata (they also have several other videos of strange and fascinating automata available for your perusal).

This one is, indeed, a 19th Century automaton clown balancing a ball.

My only question: Why does it have a tongue?


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  • DocVance

    What I want to know is, was this originally as horrifying or was it originally in, say, a larger clown-costume shell which was removed due to damage and/or a desire to show off the inner workings? Actually that might just make it more horrifying.

    Reminds me of the old Coleman’s Nursery Winter Wonderland setup in Virginia Beach that was open from the mid 60s to the early 00s. Sprawling Christmasy display of very simple animatronics up until an entire room in the very back that was inexplicably a darkened room full of antique clown automata. I don’t think I’ve ever met a single person who ever expressed an emotion other than terror at that section, which is likely why they kept it for so long… heheheh