“I know,” said artist James Auger. “Let’s build a clock that catches flies by itself and then converts them to bioelectrical energy.”
“Good idea,” said his pal Jimmy Loizeau. “A machine that eats meat to sustain itself. I can’t think of any way that could come back to bite any entire races of people in the ass. Let’s get to work!”
Fortunately or unfortunately, they knew an eccentric scientist (I’m admittedly assuming the eccentricity, go figure) – their pal Professor Chris Melhuish, who was a roboticist. They said, “Hey, man, you want to help us construct a monstrosity? We have beer!”
And I guess none of them had wives or their wives weren’t around, because they went down to their lab and did exactly that. Behold, a clock which runs on electricity derived from the bodies of the flies it captures:
These guys are artists, not mad scientists, so don’t worry about a thing. Nobody’s going to build an unholy army of anything and nothing’s going to grow out of control and turn on its creators. If we all stopped building horrific devices every time a bunch of busybodies started wringing their hands and whining about outrages against God, then we never would have built the atomic bomb.
Where would we be then, you bunch of squares? Just get out of the way of progress and don’t stick your fingers in the clock, all right? Easy peasy.
It’s not like anyone’s talking about real robots, roaming around eating living creatures. Oh, wait. If you watch the video, that’s exactly where they’re hoping to go with this. Try to imagine say, a roaming vacuum cleaner that powers itself on spiders and dust mites and sure, flies.
But do yourself a favor and don’t try to imagine what happens when the house is 100% clean of all of those things. Most likely, the vacuum cleaner will simply grab a cold one, and then watch the basketball game with you, right?
For now, it’s just a clock, and there’s not a clock on Earth big enough to eat a human being. Well, actually lots of clocks are that big, but as long as they can’t chase you around, you’ll probably be fine. If you go to London, and Big Ben tells you to come inside for a second because he made you a sandwich, well make up your mind for yourself – you’re an adult, right?
Nothing to worry about from clocks as long as you keep your wits about you.
Now, I’m just going to interrupt myself for a second here, and I apologize, don’t mean to intrude, but are you pretty creeped out right about now? Because if you are, I think you should stop reading and go on back to living in your magical dreamworld where nobody is teaching machines to hunt and eat meat.
Because here’s a lamp. The cool thing about a lamp powered by bugs is that moths are attracted to the light, and moths are bugs. It might very well be the first perpetual motion machine, except it doesn’t move, which now that I think about it invalidates this entire sentence. Damn it.
Also, I just read their blog a little, and the lamp eats flies, not moths. Well I guess that’s why I’m a blogger and they’re Meat Lamp Artists.
But whatever – it’s the first lamp I’ve ever heard of which catches bugs and eats them and converts them to electrical energy, and it doesn’t remind me of the nightmare future world from The Matrix at all. I don’t even know why you brought that up – kind of obtuse, frankly. Don’t you know art when you see it, you slack-jawed hillbilly?
All right, I’m sorry about that. If it makes you feel any better, I’m a pretty serious hillbilly myself. I’m blogging barefoot right now, for example, and I’m playing the banjo.
Let’s move on to something a little creepier, shall we? Like this mouse-powered table:
There’s a video, too, if you’re interested in watching a mouse get decapitated by a robotic table, which I’m assuming you’re not. But the video also goes into the technical side of the microbial fuel cell, in case you want to build your own and maybe stick it on your lawn mower or your refrigerator, see what happens.
And I know that you may be thinking, mouse-powered table? Tom, I was unaware that tables needed to be powered by anything at all. Most of the tables I have encountered just sit there, made of wood, and you put things on them, but you don’t plug them into anything.
But that’s only if you don’t want your table to lure mice into its hollow legs and then motivate them to stick their heads through a little hole at the top, where the table then chops their little heads off. That’s a pretty energetic table and it needs a steady diet of mouse heads to keep running nice and smooth.
You want to change the cheese out every three months, or every twelve mice, just like the oil in your car.
The table is something I can really get behind, as someone who works in the mortgage industry. I’m thinking, how about an enormous conference table powered by loan officers and real estate agents? Once we build the larger, selectively man-eating table we could then all simply agree to never expand its diet to any other kind of people, just the two. Problem solved.
All we have to do is draw the line. One thing I’ve learned about human beings is they don’t normally go trampling recklessly over lines just for the sheer hell of it. We’ll just make Asimov-style rules for our new carnivorous household furniture. No eating anybody except loan officers and real estate agents. Maybe mimes and Jehova’s Witnesses and convicted rapists and Glenn Beck. That’s totally it, unless we get all liquored up and decide something else, but that probably won’t happen. We’re pretty careful.
It’s all about how you approach our new household friends. Your attitudes and perceptions are your own. So sure, you might find out about ordinary objects which eat meat and you might instantly think of The Matrix and The Terminator.
Or if you weren’t such a Negative Nelly, then you might think of them as lovable childhood pals. Do you see that second one from the left up there? It’s a clock and it has a mouth. The mouth means it eats, but it also talks and laughs and sings. I mean, I don’t think you should go screwing around with those four guys up there, but it really seems to me that if you don’t start anything, there won’t BE anything.
Still, be reasonable. You want those guys to sing you songs and dance around but you can’t toss ’em a chicken wing once in a while? Look inward, man – who’s the real monster here?