I'm currently playing a delightful little game called "Creaks". In it the there are "mechanical paintings". The idea is that it's like a regular painting, but you can wind it up and some parts of it start moving. Some of them are even interactive.

I tried finding an example on Youtube, but the only one I could find was an interactive one.

And I started wondering - has there been something like that in real life? Not interactive (that would be taking it too far, I think), but simply a painting which you can "wind up" in some way and which then has moving parts (at least for a little while)?

As far as I can tell, the relevant technology has been around for long enough - for example, spring driven clocks appeared in the 15th century, and in the 17th century we even got pocket watches. Music boxes have been around since the 13th century or so and clocks started getting melodies at the start of 17th century.

So I think that both the technology and the novelty have been there. But did anyone actually do it?

  • 1
    Can you spell out what is behind the links a bit more? From the description in question I don't quite get what you yre looking for. Like, aren't examples for this found in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_animation ? Oct 6 at 9:36
  • @LаngLаngС - Since the concept involves motion it's difficult to describe or even give a picture. A video is what you need... But I'll try: Imagine a bog standard painting on the wall. But then add moving elements into it. Let's say people's hands move forth-and-back and the tree branches swing. This is accomplished by mounting said graphical elements onto hidden clockwork which is behind the picture. Energy is supplied similar to a clock - the user has to wind up a spring coil by some sort of handle on the side or maybe by pulling down on a string.
    – Vilx-
    Oct 6 at 9:42
  • +1, love the idea. Have no answer but can't wait for this to be applied in some steampunk game.
    – Ne Mo
    Oct 6 at 10:00
  • @NeMo - I'm sure there are at least a few out there. The aforementioned Creaks for one, and... I can't help but feeling I've seen this before in hidden object games. Let's see... Mystery Case Files might be a good candidate (it's a game series). But there must be more.
    – Vilx-
    Oct 6 at 10:04
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    @Luiz - Well, my question is kinda narrowed to automatons that look like paintings with moving picture elements...
    – Vilx-
    Oct 6 at 15:32

You can find some examples if you google for "erotic pocket watch" or similar. So the idea is older than your game, although I am not sure how much older. Example (this clock is probably just a few years old). Another example which is supposedly from around 1910.

An SFW example supposedly from the early 1800s can be found here.

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    Nice one! The keyword "automaton" was what I was missing when searching for these oddities myself. Add that and the results start coming in! The next interesting question then would be what was the first one and their history in general, but that's a separate question. :) Most examples that I could find were from the late 19th century, so not very old. However that might be because those results were from auctions and museums, and they would naturally feature the more intact and working (and thus newer) pieces.
    – Vilx-
    Oct 6 at 9:48
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    @Vilx if you un-check my reply, it might increase the likelyhood of someone else coming up with an even better answer.
    – Jan
    Oct 6 at 19:15
  • Is there a point? I think this is a good enough answer already. And if someone feels like they've come up with something even better, they can still add their answer or a comment. You can maybe edit in that the keyword for these things is "automaton"? That should be enough for others in the future to be set on the right path.
    – Vilx-
    Oct 7 at 7:29

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