Gear’s Heart (歯車のハート): A Paper Automaton

Gear's Heart

The design above is called The Gear’s Heart, created by paper engineer Haruki Nakamura. Nakamura lives in Japan and designs paper automatons and toys for his company KAMIKARA. Earlier last year I found a video of his creation on YouTube called ‘歯車のハート Gear’s heart’. It’s a paper automaton made up of 12 gears that rotate three times before returning to the same position.

At first, I was dubious of what the video entailed. I had found it on a papercraft (/po/) subboard on 4chan; a site that commonly produces strange subcultures and dubious (and potentially scarring) links. But the video gave me an insight in to the the artist’s passions and motivation for creating such a complicated model. Despite the language barrier, the design alone and its movement are reasons why this videos has been viewed over a million times.

The video seems old, perhaps filmed in his bedroom under low lighting, a static hum. The red heart is poorly lit in front of saturated curtains. His disembodied arm is pointing out different aspects. He makes an effort to not enter the frame. You can sense Haruki idolises his creation even if you don’t speak Japanese. The heart is the centre piece. This video is for his creation. He rotates the handle and his creation moves. Each gear turns and the structure pulses. I’m transfixed.

‘I have to make this’ I remember thinking. I can make this. I’m going to make this.


I still haven’t made it.

The completion of such a project is itself an achievement. As is the process of transforming a 2D object into a tangible 3D object. It’s the type of construction you would expect to cost a lot of money. But the model is free and distributed everywhere online. However, the creator does offer a Paypal account to pay for an “official” copy. Although I can’t imagine paying for something when there’s a download link offered on many sources. I don’t even know if the design can be attributed to the author of the video.  Especially when Sabi996 offers it for free on DeviantArt. The model is almost a fable. It felt like I had just breached an underground subculture. Somewhere I didn’t understand aurally, but visually I was learning.


One comment

  1. Hi Tuohy
    Some people are crazy talented! It is so interesting to see how many avenues you took to see this one video. And the fact that over a million other people would have had to something similar to view the video.
    Learning is unique to individuals some learn through books while others learn through practice and other visually. Its incredible that someone can be taught despite language barriers and through a YouTube video made in Japan.
    I would have loved to know a little bit more about your personal experience, but overall a nice post!


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