Mar 3, 2016: It Runs Like Clockwork: Automata and Artificial Hearts

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It runs like clockwork. Minute, precise, exact gears and cogs and brass-plated hands whirring with astrological certainty; clockwork suggests order out of chaos, a sense that all is right and functioning as it should be. And yet, as much as automatons fascinate us, they haunt our imaginations, too. Jacques Vaucanson introduced a flute player that actually breathed into the instrument. William Smellie created an artificial womb that actually contracted. Auzoux built anatomical models with removable organs in high color. It’s not surprising that many of the inventors were also doctors, or that the devices ultimately helped to serve patients. But what does that blend of body and technology mean? In this presentation, Brandy Schillace talks about early attempts as mimicking the body not just in form, but in function. From the birth-machines and mechanical men of the 18th century to the artificial hearts and kidneys of the early 20th, what do machines tell us about being human? Or to put it another way, what does it mean to be a “machine?” Join us at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland and see what makes us tick!

Skills

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January 15, 2016

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