Leonardo da Vinci (Application)

Concept: Ars Electronica Futurelab
Date: 2007


"Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real."
– Jules Verne

Leonardo da Vinci, the man whose machine illustrations went far beyond the stage of development that prevailed in the Middle Ages, was one of the first to bridge the gap between art, science and technology. In doing so, he anticipated mechanical visions of unlimited mobility. Whereas actually constructing the objects that da Vinci drew on paper destroys the futuristic character of his visions, generating them as 3D visualizations presents them in a vivid and impressive way that really makes them come alive.

Virtual 3D models based on the drawings and designs that da Vinci sketched of machines and means of transportation have been created for the Ars Electronica Center’s CAVE. The “air screw” that he came up with between 1483 and 1486 is considered by experts to be the precursor of the modern-day helicopter.

For his “flying machine,” da Vinci imitated the wings of bats and large birds. In going about this task, he came to the realization that the inner part of the wing moved slower than the outer part and implemented this insight into his designs.

His “airship” is dated between 1486 and 1490. It’s a bowl-shaped ship for a two-man crew and has a mechanical apparatus to steer the bat-like wings. This is the first conceptualization that featured a large tail surface to provide stability in the air and when landing, and had a corresponding fuselage form.

Da Vinci’s “paddle-wheel boat” anticipated the big wheels used to propel steamships hundreds of years later. Apart from the design’s mechanical and nautical difficulties, his construction could have reached a speed of 50 miles/hour.


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