Tipu’s Tiger

Life size 18th century automaton of tiger eating European man from the Victoria and Albert Museum Life size 18th century automaton of tiger eating European man from the Victoria and Albert Museum (detail of face) Life size 18th century automaton of tiger eating European man from the Victoria and Albert Museum (detail of inner workings)Tipu’s (or Tippoo’s) Tiger is a life-sized wooden mechanical organ made around 1793, depicting a tiger mauling a man in European clothing. When the crank is turned, a hidden mechanism causes the man’s arm to goes up and down, and plays his wails of agony along the growls of the tiger. Under a flap on the tiger’s body there is also a small pipe organ, which can play 18 notes. Continue reading

Katzenklavier: The Cat-Piano

Illustration of a cat piano, from La Nature (1883)

Illustration of a cat-organ, from La Nature (1883). Image via Messy Beast.

When I was a kid, my weird and wonderful mother used to amuse us by picking up the cat and pretending to play it like a bagpipe, using its tail as a mouthpiece. Her improvised feline instrument has, sadly, been upstaged by my discovery of the Katzenklavier, a Cat-Piano (also known as a cat organ) dreamed up in the 16th century.  Continue reading

Canaries playing pianos: an incredible installation by Robert Gligorov

Canaries playing pianos in Robert Gligorov's, 'Dollar Note', 2006.

Dollar Note is an incredible installation by Robert Gligorov, which features a bird cage full of canaries, mounted on two vertical pianos positioned back to back. As the canaries fly from perch to perch, their weight on each post strikes a piano key. Through the twin pianos, the birds thus create a companion melody to their own tuneful chirps. Continue reading

The Disciples: James Mollison’s portraits of music fans

James Mollison, The Disciples series: Dolly Parton concert, Wembley Arena, London, 19 March 2007.

James Mollison, The Disciples series: Dolly Parton concert, Wembley Arena, London, 19 March 2007. “Dolly Parton is the most successful female country artist in history, with a trademark look- blonde wig and astonishing 40-inch bust- originally based on a prostitute in her home town. Some fans carried off the look with conviction, and for others the wig was just a party touch.”

James Mollison, The Disciples series: Oasis concert, Manchester Stadium, 3 July 2005.

James Mollison, The Disciples series: Oasis concert, Manchester Stadium, 3 July 2005. “The look of the band- hair brushed forward and green army jackets- had clearly influenced their loyal fans, mainly men in their 20s and early 30s. It felt more like a crowd at a football match than a concert. People arrived there already drunk and there was an atmosphere of latent violence.”

James Mollison, The Disciples series: Missy Elliot concert, Hammersmith Apollo, London, 28 November 2005.

James Mollison, The Disciples series: Missy Elliot concert, Hammersmith Apollo, London, 28 November 2005. “…The crowd were predominantly committed hip-hop fans, ranging n age from their teens to their 30s….we went for the girls who styled themselves along the lines of the star. It turned out that Missy had injured her ankle, and she performed that night in a blinged-up electric granny-cart.”

James Mollison, The Disciples series: McFly concert, Kings Dock, Liverpool, 9 July 2005.

James Mollison, The Disciples series: McFly concert, Kings Dock, Liverpool, 9 July 2005. “Bedroom-poster teenybopper sensations McFly were ‘the leading light of Britain’s boy-band scene’…The audience of girl was incredibly young- some as young as three and the oldest about 14.”

James Mollison, The Disciples series: Björk concert, Hammersmith Apollo, London, 10 & 14 April 2008.

James Mollison, The Disciples series: Björk concert, Hammersmith Apollo, London, 10 & 14 April 2008. “On my way to the concert, I felt a sense of regret that I hadn’t photographed her fans ten years earlier, when Björk was at her most avant-garde. But the crowd at Hammersmith turned out to be edgier and more alternative than I had imagined.”

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