Mechanical Ocean Creatures, Les Machines de L’Ile Nantes

The Machine Squid
I’ve visited France. Seen the Mona Lisa, Hector Guimard’s amazing art nouveau subway entrances and the gothic Notre Dame cathedral. Now France visits Think Artificial: The city of Nantes, birthplace of science fiction pioneer Jules Verne, is the host of a machine art exhibit titled Les Machines de l’Ile (Island Machines); a collection of mechanical oceanic animals. See the amazing artwork after the jump.

The machines are the creation of artists François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice, inspired by Jules Verne and the industrial history of the city. During times of exhibition, the machines awaken periodically by the virtues of the cogs & gears and can be ridden (see links below for videos). The exhibit is located in renovated warehouses at the docks of Ile de Nantes and will remain as a permanent installment.

This is the kind of inspiration I would’ve loved to see as a kid. Thankfully I had access to a lot of books, some of which contained intricate mechanical artwork — but the Icelandic art exhibits were hardly at par with the Island Machines. I’m happy for the kids that get a chance to visit this exhibit.

The following pictures are courtesy of Claude Joannis, who receives a nice hat tip and thanks for contributing these to Think Artificial.

There’s a Lantern Fish in the Shadows

(Le Luminaire Des Grands Fonds)

Lantern Fish of Machines De Nantes
Lantern Fish of Machines De Nantes
Lantern Fish of Machines De Nantes
Lantern Fish of Machines De Nantes

Kid inside the mouth of the Pirate Fish of the Nantes Machines
I love this one. The combination of innocence and razor sharp machines rarely fails to inspire.

The Manta Ray (Les Raie Manta)

The Pirate Fish (Poisson Pirat)

Pirate Fish of the Nantes Machines
Pirate Fish of the Nantes Machines

The Reverse-Propelling Squid (Le Calmar Géant à Rétropropulsion)

The Reverse-Propelled Squid, inside view

The Reverse-Propelled Squid, in dark lighting

The Reverse-Propelled Squid, side view

The Crab Larva (La Larve De Crabe)

The Crab Larva, Machines in Nantes

Pictures of the Crab Larva are apparently rare, as the organizers didn’t have an image of it themselves. It looks like an interesting design.

The next four images are courtesy and copyright ©Nautilus-Nantes. My thanks to the organizers of Les Machines de L’ile Nantes. Click on the images to see larger versions.

The Manta Ray

Manta Ray - Nantes Machines
Click for full image.

The Reverse-Propelling Squid

Squid Nantes Machines
Click for full image.

Pirate Fish

Pirate Fish Nantes Machines
Click for full image.

Lantern of the Depths

Lantern of the Depths Nantes Machines
Click for full image.

More Artwork in Nantes

Drawing of the Heron TreeIn addition to the machines depicted above, the artists also created a 12m high and 8m wide mechanical elephant weighing 45 tonnes. There’s also a plan to create a steel tree that’s 45m (147ft.) in diameter and 28m high (92ft.), topped by two herons. Visitors will be able to ride in circles on the bird’s wings and walk bridges from branch to branch.

I didn’t include pictures of these mainly because the designs didn’t have the same aesthetic appeal as the others, but you can see some on Claude’s Flickr page.

Links & References

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11 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Bil

    these fish are awsome

  2. I recently visited Nantes and the Machines, so it was nice to stumble across your blog. When I was there, you couldn’t climb into the fish and their lights weren’t on, unfortunately, so I was surprised to see that aspect on here. I’d like to go back in a few years to see what changes have taken place. I have put a link towards your page on the above website. Thanks.

  3. italian baby


  4. MIMI


  5. hungarian lady

    i will go to Nantes and i will visit the machines next week! i expect for it! i hope it will be very good!

  6. ParãdoX

    They should put in a shark, but I’m amazed at the skill that would’ve been required to carve those out of wood o.o

  7. Antonio

    I have visited the Island Machine last week and I’m very disappointed. It’s very pretty but meaningless. I think it is in a same way of the film “AVATAR”, good effects but no scenario…

  8. Thanks for sharing Antonio! Your comparison to Avatar god me chuckling. I’m afraid I’ve got more bad news about Avatar for you; you’ll find that many visual designs in that film bare uncanny resemblence to the work of Roger Dean; I say surprising because Cameron is quite capable of coming up with novel ideas.

    See a visual side-by-side comparison of Avatar and Dean’s artwork.

    Anyway—interesting to hear that seeing them didn’t add to the overall experience. It’s the designs of Machines de L’Ile Nantes that inspire me, I doubted that any mobility of theirs could make them any more appealing to me anyway.

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