android orchestra

Toyota Partner Robot playing the violin
It is eerie like hell, in my humble opinion. On 06 December 2007 Toyota revealed two new “Toyota Partner Robots”, one of them able to play the violin. At the World Expo 2005 they already had a couple of robots playing trumpets and horns doing the welcome ceremony—it was a spark of genius to have them play “When the Saints are marching in” while entering the arena. Astounding how the automata of the 19th Century are perfected. But yet another thing strikes me as eerie. Today everybody wonders and cheers at the androids’ abilities to play musical instruments, but nobody anymore is astounded about the fact that those plastic heads are perfectly and effortlessly walking on two legs—it is already taken for granted, has crossed the border to normalcy. For the contrast, here is a picture illustrating the timeline of Honda’s bipedal robots:

And now Imagine a whole symphony orchestra of robots on world tour. This reminds me of the puppet orchestra of “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” (Fuest 1971)—with a healthy dose of self-irony masterly portrayed by my all-time favourite actor, the immortal Vincent Price—and his “Clockwork Wizards.”

Dr Phibes Clockwork Wizards

FUEST, ROBERT. 1971. The Abominable Dr. Phibes [motion picture]. Los Angeles: American International Pictures.
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