Thomas Kuntz is a sculptor, painter, designer, mechanic, animator, and model-maker. Each of those skills plays a role in creating the artist’s automata, or self-operating machines that follow a predetermined set of actions. It’s an art that has ancient roots, but Kuntz’s creations have a sense of timeless theatrics with contemporary flourishes.
Creatures like the “Prussian Conjuror” appear to have lives of their own, and using YouTube, the artist displays both his clinical and creative approach to making his automata. These thought processes were honed early in the life of Kuntz, the son of a surgeon and a folk artist/doll-maker.
At play is the concept of “uncanny valley,” the theory in which a human-like robot tends to garner revulsion and discomfort from onlookers. If you combine this concept with the artist’s love of horror films of early cinema and oddities of other eras. The artist’s website cites other influences: “Dada-surrealism, mechanical engineering, architecture, atom-age kitsch, erotica, exotica, classical renaissance, horology, anthropology, artificial life/androides, and anatomy.”
Predictably, Kuntz’s work is best viewed online via video, rather than stills, to see the scope and skill of the work. Check out some of the artist’s automata below.