The Beautiful, the Sublime and the Technological

For the third strand of the B&S project, I am looking at technology but more specifically technology’s place in our lives. I am picking up the research from my affinity with Frankenstein and the themes that come up in the story, primarily the relationship between Dr. Frankenstein and his Monster. The 18th and 19th century was a time full of invention and investigation into the sciences. Galvanism as seen in ‘Frankenstein’ was very much frowned upon, it was the practice of one Luigi Galvani, an Italian physician that demonstrated the electrical basis of nerve impulses, by sending an electrostatic current through a frog causing its muscles to twitch. In addition to this practice in Italy, France was host to many Mechanicians. These particular scientists/engineers worked on creating automatons, essentially ‘robots’ that were originally designed to explain and/or demonstrate biological functions such as movement, digestion, and other vital organ functions. This continued for a while before their purpose changed in two ways. Some of these mechanicians were commissioned to produce household automatons with serving the rich food in mind. Many of the other mechanicians made a lot of money out of their hobby. A testament to this would be Jacques De Vaucanson, he put together several androids, most notably of which would be the defecating duck. This duck was designed to simulate the eating, digesting and defecating of a duck. The automaton had hundreds of moving parts despite not having any kind of digestive ability. The reason this is important is it marks a point at which technology and invention was new to all and this interest manifested in public shows as a form of entertainment. This leads me to where the project is very much more photography based, I am looking at the relationship that we have with technology in our lives, namely the television.

In the next post I will be looking at Simon Norfolk’s work about technologies and its relevance to my work.

10 responses to “The Beautiful, the Sublime and the Technological

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