Buzz: Wonders of Engineering Put Limbs in Art

While mechanical limbs are most often found attached to humans, contemporary artist Tim Lewis had another idea.

Lewis is a mixed media artist whose recent work focuses on combining mechanics and nature, particularly animals. One popular piece that focuses on this natural-artificial blend is "Pony." While some say they see a two-footed llama, most see an ostrich in Lewis's moving sculpture. Pony appears to be a stationary work of art at first glance but its three mechanical arms can all move. Two of the mechanical arms form Pony's legs and one branches up to form its head and neck. The bird is attached to an empty carriage which it drags around behind it as the sculpture moves across the exhibit. Pony is not an interactive sculpture, rather an autonomous piece. This somewhat creepy, prehistoric-like bird looks like it would fit right in at a steampunk event and has been featured in several exhibits including Flowers Galleries and Kinetica. Other mechanical creatures from Lewis include Pann, Junked, and Fawn.

Another art project influenced by robotic prosthetics is Disney's new movie "Big Hero 6." Don Hall, co-director of the film, saw a robotic arm made of balloons at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute years ago and came up with the idea for an inflatable robot. This idea came to life as Baymax, a gentle robot designed to take care of humans that becomes a fighter for a cause. As Baymax is a cartoon, he is more advanced than anything currently in Carnegie Mellon's soft robotics labs though he is a "living" concept for the field. "The movie is a tremendous win for soft robotics," said Chris Atkeson, professor of robotics. "I think this movie will be inspirational for a lot of people."

Photo: © Flowers.