“Apparatus to overcome the perceived
lack of humanity in today’s communication”
The first device is the most complex, composed of many parts.
According to the documentation that came with it, it is a machine for communication.
I think this is a demonstration version, composed of two stations connected by a thick bundle of cables; it wouldn’t make much sense to use this machine if the person we want to communicate with is in the same room.
Each station is composed by a raised board, upon which five different humanoid figures find space. In front of each figure, a small light and a switch; if you tap the switch, the corresponding
light on the other station lights up.
The figures are the most interesting parts: they are not stationary, instead they move, like small automata. Some of the drawings show some sort of mechanism that would set the automaton in motion when the light goes on, however nothing like the sort came through and I haven’t been able to reconstruct it. Therefore in this version, the recipient of the message needs to operate the indicated automaton by herself, when the message comes through.
They can be removed from the station, probably to make maintenance easier, or maybe different set would be made available. They simply plug into the station base; the bottom part of each figure is composed of three tabs of different width, in five different configurations so that it is impossible to accidentally place a figure in place of another, I guess to avoid serious misunderstandings.
Each automaton represent an expressive gesture; some of them are common and some are more peculiar.
It took quite a while to put them together; only three of them arrived complete, made of brass and hardwood. Some assembly was needed, but all the parts where there. In order to complete the two sets that are needed for two communicating stations I had to reconstruct seven automata. Luckily, there where enough parts to get a good idea of what it would have looked like, so I’m pretty confident that my results are close to the initial design.
I cannot say the same about the electrical part, as it falls completely outside my fields of knowledge. I had to rely on the help and expertise of a friend, but I am not positive I managed to convince him of the need to follow the instructions and original plans as close as possible (and I’m pretty sure those did not involve the use of LED). However, if not in form, it is true to the plans in function, and should give a good approximation of the experience that was meant to be.