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Film by Josefine Baark - ‘The Mystery of the Chinese Mechanism’.

Photograph of filming object.

Leverhulme Post Doctoral Fellow, Josefine Baark, has produced a documentary film, entitled ‘The Mystery of the Chinese Mechanism’ (Det Kinesiske Urværks Hemmeligheder) in collaboration with Christian Laursen Film.

The film presents research completed during her year-long Mads Øvlisen Art History Fellowship at the University of Copenhagen. The film explores how miniature automata combined aesthetically pleasing design with their consumers’ tacit knowledge of the unseen, mechanical interior. Such tactile and beautiful technologies play a major part in how people view and respond to the world, whether it be Chinese automata or an Apple iPhone 7. The models offer the opportunity to think about connectivity between aesthetics and technology, as well as between China and the West, in a manner that takes into account artefacts’ relation to their surroundings.

Photograph of Josefine Baark.The research was done in collaboration with a professional clock conservator, in order to document the technology that lay behind the intricately moving miniatures, and it features a unique insight into the otherwise hidden mechanism through an x-ray of one of the models at the National Museum of Denmark. The film also presents research conducted at Amalienborg Palace, Christiansborg Castle, Fredriksberg Castle, Drottningholm Palace and the Danish State Archives. Ultimately, it sheds new light on the dialectic by which inventions borrowed from one culture are adopted to suit another in the process of aesthetic hybridization.

The film’s completion was announced at the Novo Nordisk Fonden Art History Inspiration Day on 22 October 2018, where Josefine Baark was invited to speak about the project and its exciting results.

Sun 28 Oct 2018, 10:38 | Tags: Video and podcast, Impact, Research, General