Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Things That Should Be Shirts #1: Cloacanard, or The Defecating Duck

"Without the shitting duck, there would be nothing to remind us of the glory of France." --Voltaire

Oh Voltaire, you're such a hater.

The duck to which eighteenth-century France's notable naysayer refers is the now-long-lost creation of Jaques de Vaucanson, an inventor of automata and contemporary of Voltaire. Among his inventions were android table servants, a life-size flute playing shepherd, and, of course, the famed fowl. Reported to have more than 400 moving parts on each wing alone, and able to eat, digest, and excrete grain, the duck seems to have been quite the sophisticated machine. Sure, claims have been made that the duck's excrement was a separate substance housed apart from the ingested grain. Even if that's the case, all accounts suggest that Voucanson's mechanical mallard was pretty remarkable.  

Though it seems the duck had a storied career, wonderfully recounted in Living Dolls: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life, it has long since gone the way of a certain cousin. Nevertheless, some evidence remains, including written accounts, and the speculative illustrated diagram below, to which we'd like to pay homage in the only way we know how: by printing it on a t-shirt!  

And there you have it: the first installment of what will become The Concern's intermittently ongoing series Things That Should Be Shirts. We know you'll await the finished product with bated breath.

Until next time,

Mike and The Riverwest Brothers Local Screen Printing Concern

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