Writing model making and inventing in Paul Scheerbart’s The Perpetual Motion Machine
First published in German in 1910 and in English as late as 2011 Das Perpetuum Mobile: Die Geschichte einer Erfindung/The Perpetual Motion Machine: The Story of an Invention narrates the German visionary writer and artist Paul Scheerbart’s (1863-1915) obsessive efforts to produce numerous models of a fantastic machine. Written in the form of a diary between 1907 and 1910 and supplemented by twenty-six diagrams the book is a record of his “flights of imagination” manifested in a series of fanciful futures to be created by the machine. As such it is a documentation of this process as well as of his emotional state oscillating between hope and dissappointment laughter and frustration. While reading the book as “the story of an invention” this chapter traces Scheerbart’s use of the words “story” and “machine” synonymously meaning an “invented story/machine” and focuses on the role played by model making in this process of “invention.” Here it draws attention to the central place occupied by architecture in Scheerbart’s futuristic scenarios through the models of “a colossal art of space” to be exhibited in “a gigantic architectural park” covering “the entire Harz region” in Germany in a scale “larger than anything we have witnessed in architecture up to now.” Accordingly the chapter aims to discuss the book’s relevancy to today’s architectural education as a design tool of writing/making the model of an architectural “story”/“machine” which documents its own process of “invention.” © 2018 Taylor & Francis.