Sunday, April 16, 2006

Simplicity Made Complex

I love studying and analyzing creative solutions.
I am fascinated by all things Japanese.
And I love clever smart-ass trouble-makers.

This post satisfies all three weird cravings.

A long long time ago for most of you -- more than 40 years ago, which puts us solidly before the 1970's -- a creative Pulitzer Prize winning soul named Rube Goldberg drew cartoons illustrating absurd machines that solved the simplest tasks using the most complex, absurd, and vaguely predictable methods imaginable. I was fascinated as a child by some of the bizarre "solutions" he drew up. When I grew a bit older, I learned that his drawings had artistic meaning behind them -- that they represented
symbols of man's capacity for exerting maximum effort to accomplish minimal results. Rube believed that there were two ways to do things: the simple way and the hard way, and that a surprising number of people preferred doing things the hard way.
With that in mind, I present a link to something truly remarkable -- a series of Japanese commercials made by God-knows-who to promote God-knows-what. There must be about two dozen of these commercials and contraptions, and all of them feature some virus-like musical ditty and a printed Japanese phrase at the end of each that means nothing to these uneducated gaijin eyes.

The Japanese call these Pythagorean Machines. I don't know why, although the Pythagorean Theorem is the one that tells us the hypotenuse of a right triangle squared equals the sum of the square of the other two sides. Not that that explains anything about the Japanese use of the name in this instance. It's just fun to act all smart and stuff.

I can only imagine how many times some of these Japanese Pythagorean Machines had to be re-started and re-filmed until they worked properly. Some are better than others, of course. But when presented together, the effect is overwhelming and sort of numbing. Not a bad feeling to begin a new week.
Check out these incredible machines by clicking here.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a celebration of kinetic and potential energy, with a little magnetic potential thrown in. I love it; maybe it appeals to my meticulous nature. I don't find it mundane; in fact it's one of the few product placements that actually makes me want to buy their product. Hopefully it's not for a hemorrhoid cream.

11:04 PM, April 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I looked up your boy Rube. Now I want an entire room filled with his machines.

11:06 PM, April 20, 2006  
Blogger HRlaughed said...

Yessssss! Somebody who understands and appreciates!

I have been growing concerned these past four days after posting this link that my tastes might be too obscure and eccentric for my readers.

But you, dear reader, are a fabulous human bean, and I thank you for speaking up and making my day. Hemorrhoid cream indeed!

12:36 AM, April 21, 2006  

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