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"An orchestrion, if you’re wondering, is like a souped-up player piano from the early 1900s. These automatic music machines encased in beautiful wood cabinets don’t just play piano but also drums, bells, and pipes that can imitate violins as well as woodwinds and horns. As MP3 players get smaller and smaller, certain people are rejecting this miniaturization of the music-listening experience and full-on embracing orchestrion nostalgia."

Collector's Weekly has a lovely piece up about these automated music machines.  

If you are interested in these machines I'd also suggest that you check out House on the Rock outside on Madison Wisconsin where you will find several mamoth version of these mechanica music boxes include the very steampunk Organ Room.

Meet Marv, The Robotic Vibraphone

I've been sitting on this one for awhile and I can't tell you how excited I am to tell you about it. Quite possibly the coolest way to way to make weird noises, Marv is a MIDI Actuated Robotic Vibraphone created by Tim O'Keefe, Michael McIntyre, and Brock Roland at the SFSU School of Engineering.

Marv is made up by several large banks of solenoids- both for striking and dampening the keys. Marv is an extremelly well documented robot- the site has extensive technical details as well as tons of photos, links, diagrams, and videos.

I chose the above video- the night of Marv's "birth" (first succesful run) because I love, and can sympathise, with the feeling of the late night in the lab, windows dark, everyone else gone home, anxious and terrified to see if with a single press of a button, your creation will come alive.

Automatic: a robot art show

If'n you're in the SF bay area, I hight suggest checking out this group show bennifiting RoboGames 2010. (Disclaimer: I am in the show, but so are a heck of a lot of other great artists).

Automatic for the people.

Do sentient machines dwell on the existential circuit that leads to the spiritual 404 error?

Does being a machine mean just being a device: literarily, artistically and literally?

Or does everything just boil down to everyone’s deep-seated need to crush all humans and plot eventual total world domination? Find out at Automatic!

November 19, 20, 21, 2009
Exhibit: 5pm-8pm / Beer and wine reception 7pm-12pm on Fri & Sat
@ The lowerDeck Gallery – 2295 3rd Street (below Sundance Coffee in San Francisco)

Robot Paintings and Sculptures from the prodigious talents of: Doctor Popular * Josh Ellingson * I-Wei Huang * Simon Cox * Nils Jawa * Jonathan Foote * Camp Peavy * Alice Koswara * Max Chandler * Eliot K. Daughtry * Adam Davis * Patrick Lake * Phoneticontrol * Mike Hales * Bill Robinson, Liz Mamorsky, Meredith Scheff and many many others!

*”My God, it’s full of robots!” 

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