Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Musical Lady and Repliee - Erotic Machine Sisters 200 Year Apart....

1776 - Musical Lady
If the Poet speaks truth that says Music has charms
Who can view this Fair Object without Love’s alarms
Yet beware ye fond Youths vain the Transports ye feel
Those Smiles but deceive you, her Heart’s made of steel
For tho’ pure as a Vestal her price may be found
And who will may have her for Five Thousand Pounds

So read the mischievous 1776 advertisement of Pierre Jacquet-Droz (1721-1790) and his son Henry-Louis (1753-1791) about their Musical Lady. She was a lovely young woman who played the clavichord “by the pressure of her own fingers upon the keys” (Bedini, 1964, p. 39). Jacquet-Droz was showing his most famous and successful musical automaton at the Great Promenade Room in Spring Gardens, London. Descriptions of Droz’s Musical Lady tended to focus upon her demure, yet erotic nature. Musical Lady was noted and reviewed in the press for her heaving breasts and her coquettish bow (in addition to her musical ability). “The accomplished lady’s eyes really moved… ‘She is apparently agitated’…with an anxiety and diffidence not always felt in real life” (Schaffer, 1996, p. 56). Such reviews highlight the interplay of passion and exoticism that has long been associated with the female-machine.

Fast forward 230 years and we encounter another mechanical woman name Repliee Q1, created in Japan by Hiroshi Ishiguro.