Modern Automata

Found this beautiful modern automaton on You tube.

The French poet and notorious absinthe drinker Paul Verlaine sits in the late night Parisian cafe sipping his “Humble Ephemeral absinthe”. No words flow from his quill. It’s nearing closing hour and through his blurred vision the Green Muse appears to him offering inspiration and a kiss…
As he begins writing, a cool breeze is felt and the image of his dead friend Arthur Rimbaud appears seated next to him, but its not possible he died years before from an abscessed leg! A last sip of absinthe peels the face away from the apparition revealing a smiling death’s head. He knows his bitterness and loneliness will soon be put to rest in a final slumber…………….


This automaton represents 5 months worth of development. Just from a sculptural standpoint it required making over 27 sculptural pieces from scratch including the four main characters each based on real people . The debauched, albeit groundbreaking poets Paul Verlaine Arthur Rimbaud, “The green Fairy” (modeled after Blake Bolger), and last but not least Bi bi- La -Puree (who stands outside and cues the show) resplendent in his ragged clothing, musketeer hat and stolen umbrella.
From the technical side this automaton was difficult to do in small scale (roughly 1/12 scale on the interior figures) all the movements are stored on Brass cams, 12 of them just for the main movements; heads, arms, bodies etc. and other mechanisms, gears springs levers etc, to control various systems. These cams we’re worked out in wood before hand machining them to the final form. The illusion works on the Pepper’s ghost principle, a staple in the grand era of magic and showmanship. The Sculpture, mechanical design, engineering, painting, etc. are all the work of Thomas J. Kuntz.
This piece is dedicated with love to Blake Bolger, she suggested Rimbaud as a subject candidate for this absinthe themed piece. It snowballed from there after our visit to Paris, the location where the famous cafe’s of yesteryear still echo with the ghosts of the past if one cares to listen….

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