Week 8 : Harmonograph – Machine-Produced Drawing Process

“A harmonograph is a mechanical apparatus that uses pendulums to draw a geometric image. The simplest so-called ‘lateral’ or ‘rectilinear’ harmonograph uses two pendulums: one moves a pen back and forth along one axis, while the other moves the drawing surface back and forth along a perpendicular axis. By varying their amplitudes, frequencies and the phase difference, we can get quite a number of different patterns” (https://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/the-harmonograph/). It is called the harmonograph because it made a written record of the harmony of the pendulums.

The harmonograph is also known as the first art machine–because it is created with something non-human. It uses basic physics, a pencil, and a piece of paper, to produce a large variety of beautiful designs.

The variations of making a harmonograph can very in the amplitude of the pendulums, the weight of them, and the frequency of their movement. Some harmonographs can be made very simple, but some also quite complicated.

There is also an equation that can determine how the harmonograph is made, which are called Lissajous curves:

x(t) = A \sin(a t + \delta)y(t) = B \sin(b t)

It also was one of the first inventions that caused people to question the nature of art. The harmonograph produced images that weren’t the result of the glory of nature or the artistry of humans, both of which were acknowledged without difficulty at the time when art was flourishing. This was a simple mechanical device, built by humans, that could produce a seemingly endless variety of pleasing shapes and beautiful images. This was a time when humans were just beginning to break away from realistic painting and focus on shape and color.

Sources:

https://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/the-harmonograph/

http://io9.com/5909136/the-harmonograph-was-the-first-art-machine

– Rasmikah Al-arfaj

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