November 12, 2008
I found the most wonderful story today and just had to share it (even if it´s kind of long).
Franz Gsellmann, an austrian farmer was born in 1910, as a child he wanted to be an electrician but his father didn´t allow him to start an apprenticeship so he became a farmer. But for all his life he remained fascinated by moving objects, the mechanical interaction of modern machines. He dreamed of building a machine but lacked a characteristic element for the construction of his machine. Until he saw the Atomium of the 1958 Brussels world fair in his local newspaper. The farmer boarded the train and went to brussels. The journey to three days but was worth it: Gsellmann had found the heart of his machine. He went home and started working.
For the next 23 years he worked on his wondrous machine and never during all his life told what purpose or meaning his machine was supposed to have. He went to Graz, Vienna and many fleamarkets all over on a bike to find objects and small treasures for his machine, among them a small dutch windmill, an eagle made from china, 5 crosses, seven generators and 200 lightbulbs. No one was allowed into the room where he build his machine, not even his wife.
In his village nobody understood him and they ridiculed him. Often he would go to the attic when the mocking grew too much to handle; there he would mourn and cry himself to sleep.
But in the night of 1968 as all lights went off in his tiny village, the people there knew: Gsellmann did it. In that night he turned on his machine. 12 switches were needed. Then green, red and blue wheels started to turn, hundreds of tiny lamps started blinking , it was creaking and humming and squealing. The whole thing is 6 meters long, 3 meters high and 2 meters wide. In its middle a tiny Atomium is rotating and a glass Holy-Mary statue is shining with tiny lightbulbs surrounding it like a rose wreath.
And nobody knows what it is.
“When a human is gifted, it´s like an inner drive. It´s like in spring when a rosebush starts growing tiny buds, and in may,june the roses are there. like this it drives me year after year.” Franz Gsellmann, builder of the worlds-maschine.
Over time his magical machine began to drew visitors. Legend has it that even the artist Jean Tinguely, who builds kinetic sculptures and has his art displayed at the MoMa and the Tate, traveled to the farm to see the machine.
Gsellmann kept perfecting his machine until his death. The family claims that one day after he went to his wife to tell her his machine was finished, he simply went to bed and died.
It´s such a beautiful (and kind of sad) story and my translation doesn´t really does it justice. I really hope that Mr. Gsellmann was satisfied with his machine and that it turned out how he wanted it too. And that he is watching from heaven now, seeing people take enjoyment in his machine and that they are in awe of his accomplishment and dedication.
Here is a beautiful article about Gsellmann and his miracle machine (in german).
And the website of the museum at his house where the machine still stands (in german).
There is also a book about him on amazon (in german): Der Weltenmaschinenroman.