Automated Music Boxes (Mandeville)

September 10, 2009

I have been percolating a ‘marionette necklace’ that is slowly gathering speed.  The idea came to me when I was teaching in Santa Fe last March after seeing the Gustave Baumann exhibit at the Santa Fe Museum.  It was the ‘Waiting for Baumann’ display that an artist had done portraying the printmaker/marionette designer’s work table/studio and the finished marionettes hanging on the wall waiting for him to come back.  He had been dead for 32 years at this point.

The marionettes had digitally projected faces on them.  One was Charlie Chaplin and every so often his foot would tap impatiently and he would tilt his head.  The cowboy in the middle was very anxiously looking at his companions on the wall and saying “Where is he?  Is there someone out there? Do you think he’s coming back?” and the lady next to him would yawwwwwn every so often.  I really was struck by this installation.   Something clicked in my head when I saw this piece and I couldn’t stop looking at it.  I was trying to take it all in because there was something there for me.  Like I said, it’s still percolating.

Anyway, on Antiques Roadshow (PBS) the showed what they called a mandeville or automated music box: three clowns playing musical instruments, sort of squat and twist while playing.  It was amazing.  Of course, I saw this after finding Clair du Reve in the Paris Mapguide.  Who knows where this fascination is going but I’m sure it will be somewhere articulated…

On that note, I started searching the net for automated music boxes.  Here are some places I found:


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