Is life nothing more than complex machinery, or is it something more? That's one of the big questions facing us today, as science tries to unravel the mysteries of nature and consciousness. But unlike the early ideas of philosophers like René Descartes -- who believed that animals were merely complex automata that did not have language or reasoning -- there does appear to be more to the picture, as we discover that animals can gossip, and even form form dialects.
But the "machinery" of movement is still interesting to break down and study, as artist Derek Hugger has done with this amazing kinetic sculpture of a hummingbird in flight. Using over 400 parts, this artwork is a pretty close imitation of a hummingbird hovering. See it in action below:
"Colibri" is a wooden kinetic sculpture that simulates the motion of a hummingbird in flight. Every element of motion has been completely mechanized, from the beating wings to the flaring tail. Intricate systems of linkages and cams bring the sculpture to life with a continuous flow of meticulously timed articulations. As each mechanism has been linked to the next, Colibri cycles through its complete range of motions by the simple turn of a crank. This project took me roughly 700 hours and contains about 400 parts.
Dubbing it an "organic motion sculpture," Colibri is one of Hugger's many sculptures that explore the curiosities of movement and how to engineer them. Hugger's works are full of whimsical structures and compositions that wind up, open, close and spin.
As we can see from these impressive sculptures, motion itself is not that simple, and that we've got much to learn from nature to mimic even what looks like an easy flap of the wings. Makers and tinkerers will be happy to know that Hugger's designs can be rebuilt at home, by purchasing and downloading his plans, available in his shop. To see more of Derek Hugger's works, visit his site.