Archive for the ‘landscapes’ Category

virtual landscapes and virtual worlds 2004 – 2008

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Human desire to emulate nature and man can be traced back to Antiquity. Thus, Aristotle in his „de anima” and „politica” written around 350 BC speaks of an automatised Venus. And approximately in 110 AC, Heron of Alexandria in „de automatis” describes medium-size apparatuses designed for public display. Mention must also be made of the automatic theatres; detailed descriptions and illustrations of their technical construction have survived to our days.
It was not before the 14th century, starting with the development of the mainspring and mechanical clocks, that man could completely be eliminated from the automata’s mechanism. Automatic art witnessed its heyday with the creations by Jacques de Vaucanson (the Flutist, the Drummer and the Duck), Jaquet-Droz’ androids and, in particular, Wolfgang von Kempelen’s chess player and talking machine. The most spectacular feature of both automata was that they, rather than to reproduce something specified in advance behaved as if they had taken possession of the human voice and ratio.
Industrial Revolution – in the course of which automata turned into machines – not only changed the attitude towards technology, but society itself. During the 1860s, the first conveyor belts emerged in the slaughterhouses of Cincinnati; this system was optimised by Henry Ford (who had been an apprentice there) when he had transfer lines installed in his car assembly shops.
From then, machines have been artificial limbs similar to those used in medicine serving to complete the human body and its functionality so as to make the work process more efficient, faster, better, or to facilitate it at all. Robots, as the working automats used to be called later, are machines exclusively designed for carrying out particular operations and in doing so, as a rule, do not require man-machine interaction whatsoever. Moreover, as for the creation of robots usually standardised parts are being used both form and functionality are greatly limited. The use of standardised parts is essential, on the one hand in order to reduce the costs and time necessary to produce a great number of machines – as dictated by economic requirements – and to ensure that existing solutions do not call for any principal adaptations. On the other hand, rather than for art, such parts are designed for industrial needs. Since the development of prototypes is a costly endeavour regarding each single part as a prototype would result in an uneconomic end-product and a lengthy development process as regards further developments.

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