I came across this film early this morning and was immediately intrigued. It’s a film of an automata, a hand-crafted machine made by Swedish artist/craftsman Per Helldorff (his site can be seen here) that has a figure playing the old shell game, the classic con game using three shells or cups and a ball or pea. The operator puts a ball under one of the cups and shifts them around while the sucker–oops, I mean bettor– tries to follow the motion and pick the final location of the ball. It’s a ruse that has literally been around since the times of ancient Greece.
We love to be tricked, don’t we?
I sat and watched this several times, trying to figure out the mechanics behind the trick and can’t quite get it. I think there must be two balls and a magnet or a catch of some sort. Take a look at see what you think. I’ve also included a few more of Mr. Helldorff’s other automata. Just lots of fun.