Friday, May 18, 2012 • 11:20 AM Post a Comment

Goldbergian Triumphs of Europe

posted by James Heflin

I used to work in Switzerland. And, outside of one particularly fetching news anchor, I found Swiss TV a weird, weird place. Exhibit A was a 30-minute or so segment that kept re-airing, in which a vast room held an equally vast Goldbergian machine system. Everything from weird physical interactions between objects to slow, fizzy chemical reactions fueled the massive machine, whose purpose was the convoluted "look what we did!" derring-do of its creators.

The problem was the utterly soporific nature of the thing--there was no music, and the slow unfolding of all the interactions and reactions was like a visualization of the interior of the Swiss brain while dreaming: a precise, ingenious clockwork boredom. Or at least that was my very American impression of the Swiss who looked at me (and most everyone else who didn't smell of Tilsiter) as if I'd just walked into a cathedral with poo on my shoe. Which I may well have done at some point.

Well, not only have I now rediscovered that very segment (Der Lauf der Dinge), a more modern hommage to said Goldbergian dream has now come to light, and it's a lot more fun, especially for being set up in two suitcases. Not to mention for being Dutch.

Enjoy!

The Swiss brain? (And this brief excerpt is the exciting bit):

The Dutch brain?:

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