Being a bird-ophile, I am often sent a whole host of websites, photos, trivia, scat and carcasses of the bird variety from well-meaning friends. Today a friend sent me a terrific link to a recent TED lecture by an engineer who crafted a robot that looks and flies like a seagull.
In general I despise technology, in the same vein of Heidegger’s suspicion that technology deludes us from Being. And I certainly can’t stand using the Internet to look at videos of things that inspire me or to post blogs.
But when I saw this robotic seagull take to the airspace above the theatre seats, beating its mechanical wings and tilting it’s unnatural head in the way only seagulls do, my eyes welled up in the way they do when I experience Beauty, or a moment of Being.
It’s not that the bird itself is beautiful – it is clearly a robot. And let’s face it, they chose a seagull, one of our most despised birds due to it’s greedy opportunism, it’s cadent, shrill birdcall, and well, to be frank – show me a person who hasn’t been relishing a glorious day at the ocean’s edge only to *plop* get shat on by a seagull.
Moreover, my idea of Beauty is not platonic in the way science and engineering would have us believe – that there is a classical, ever-lasting, hierarchical Beauty; that somehow this robot is man’s step towards that eternal, perfect, golden ratio.
Instead, I find humble beauty in the homage man pays to something it cannot appropriate — that all the complicated materials, intense mathematical analysis and intricate architecture dissolves into reproducing flight – something man will never attain unassisted.
And most of all, an audience of highly educated people in this most technological of times (and places) was unabashedly reduced to the childlike awe of flight. The same flight that is taken for granted when that seagull soars above and shits on you.
Today’s advice: Get off the damn Internet and make something. And then post it on the Internet.