Thursday, August 19, 2010

Le Défenseur du Temps -- l'automate


Okay, this is not exactly a secret place but when I ask people (Parisians and tourists) most have never heard of it. The first time I saw this horloge by Jacques Monestier, sculpteur d'automates, Le Défenseur du Temps was fully functional and just amazing.


You can find the whole story in the imbeded links but here is the Genie Notes version: The clock was commissioned in 1975 and installed in 1979 in le Quartier de l'Horloge, so named for this work. At the striking of each hour the man with his sword and shield fights against a bird, a dragon, or a crab representing heaven, earth and sea. At the special hours of noon, 18h and 22h, the three attack him all together. There are accompanying sounds for the rumbling of earth, the blowing of the wind, and the breaking of waves. It is 4M (13 feet) high and weighs about 1 ton.


The original electronics were upgraded in 1995 but sadly there has been no funding for maintenance and the clock stopped on 1 juillet 2003. To have seen the clock striking an hour was fascinating, but the special hours were beyond description! Quel dommage.


Here is a video of 14h as he fights the bird.

21 comments:

Paris Paul said...

I always forget about this one! Thanks for reminding me and for including the link that was (almost) as good as your photo. My question is, what happens if the bird or the dragon are able to attain "time"?

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

Wow, how very interesting! I love things that have symbolism, and the embellishments for this scultpure (ie. the detailed story, the artwork itself, the sound accompaniment) is so wonderful.

Thanks for opening up my eyes to yet another treasure in the city of Paris :)

Alexa said...

Wow—sure wish I'd seen this when it was up and running! Thanks for sharing.

Genie said...

Paul -- So glad you knew about this but you will agree that it is somewhat hidden. I would like to know more about Monestier and his installations as I think he is quite clever. To answer your question, none of the 3 (crab, dragon, bird) ever win the match, but what if... and what does it mean?

Brittany -- The first time I saw it at "full strike" there was a small crowd of 10 or 12 people but nothing compared to the gathering to watch the Astronomical Clock in Prague. You can get so close to the action and there is (was) real movement!

Gunn said...

Looks like a very nice blog. This is my first visit. Anyway, I just want to tell you that the photo at the top (at the heading) is just SUPERB! Beautiful light and atmosphere along the river. Keep up the good work!:)

Virginia said...

I'm sick I"ve never seen this in person. Thanks for sharing with us. The video is worth the time. THe music is wonderful as well. I went right to Itunes and bought it!
V

M said...

Genie, Merci beaucoup for introducing me to this beauty while in Paris -- Quel domage that it wasn't working -- I would have loved to have seen it in action. The video was well worth it.

Genie said...

Alexa -- I would love to think that someone in Paris will find the means to get this going again.

Gunn -- Thanks for visiting and for the comments on the header photo. It was summer on the Seine, Pont des Arts, late in the day. Merci!

Virginia -- Surely there is a video somewhere showing the full routine as he fights all three at once.

M -- The size of it is impressive -- I think that they just need a little IT revision to get all those parts moving again!

Petrea said...

What a quaint piece. You'd think it was built years earlier.

JM said...

I haven't heard of it either... Truly eye-catching!

Loree said...

I have never heard of that clock. It mmust have been an awesome sight on the special hours. Pity it doesn't work anymore.

Genie said...

Loree -- I would like to think that funding could be found to get it moving again. Each of the scales on the dragon were hand hammered brass (Louis Desouches) -- incredible detail!

Petrea -- It is interesting that when you think about this installation and look at the style you could imagine that it is much older. Also, the electronics to animate at that time were subject to a short-life. Just imagine if this were being created today. Our computer capabilities are much more advanced and might provide a longer-lasting piece of animated art.

JM -- I am always looking for the new and underrated things in Paris.

J Bar said...

That's magnificent.
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shari @ little blue deer said...

That is amazing! Mr. Deer would love it, too! XX!

Harriet said...

How very interesting! I've not seen this mentioned in the tourist guides, so thanks for sharing. And thanks for all the links.

Genie said...

Jim -- Thanks for stopping in. I left you a message.

Shari -- Wonderful! Do you think Mr. Deer could get it moving again?

Harriet -- I do not think that it is in any of the recent tourist guides as it is "en panne." I still think it is worth seeing.

Polly said...

Oh, what a special, off-the-beaten-track find! I loved the Brel version of "Ne Me Quitte Pas" too. Thanks for the research necessary to bring it all together for us.

Château-Gontierdailyphoto said...

This place is full of emotion for me. Because when I was a kid I was living in Paris, and before they built all these new buildings in this area there was a school here. And I have studied in this school.
Sorry you don't have seen the clock working for special hours it's really a nice show.

Virginia said...

Oh yes, M. Brel's song just makes the video. His version just got added to my iTUnes playlist! :)
V

Genie said...

Hi Polly -- I went to iTunes and downloaded the podcasts (free) about Jacques Brel and bought the single song. Why does that French music make us feel so dreamy?

L -- I really did see the "whole show" in 2002. Just wonderful!

Palm Beach Vending Machine said...

Looks like a very nice blog. This is my first visit.
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