The rabbit is significant in that the handle on the original South Pointing Chariot was carved in the form of a rabbit. Because the handle extended out front it meant that wherever the rabbit went the chariot had to follow.
Newton, of course, was the inventor of differential calculus so his place in the tale is quite special.
Having designed and built several clocks during my career it suddenly occurred to me that when you look at the face of a clock both hands have the same center.
The engine of ancient society was religion but the engine of contemporary society, as I see it, is advertising.
Once upon a perfect night, unclouded and still, there came the face of a pale and beautiful lady. The tresses of her hair reached out to make the constellations, and the dewy vapours of her gown fell soft upon the land.
I started by looking at what others had done before me. You see, over the years there have been attempts by many different people to reconstruct the chariot.
The original item looked like a little hand cart with the figure of a man mounted on a platform between the wheels. The man’s outstretched arm always pointed south.
I think most artists find it difficult to part with their work but it’s the parting that keeps us alive and keeps us working. In the case of the chariot, although it’s been sold I actually still have it, just in another form.
I took lots of photographs and had planned to write a treatise on how it worked, but I quickly got bored with that idea and wrote a scientific fairy tale instead.
If we listen human instinct actually tells us what we need, but advertising makes us want things we don’t need and things we can’t have.
In practical terms the South Pointing Chariot was a simple direction finder. It could have been made to point in any direction – north, south, east or west.
In the fairy tale the painting represents the here and now. The book is actually divided into five sections, through which the key character, the muse, leads us.
If you look closely you can see that they are all interconnected, symbolic of a never-ending circle in which it is simply impossible for the dog to catch the rabbit.
She’s not happy about the life she is living but to jump through the hoop would mean to succumb to death.
The chariot was purchased by a private collector who took it home to New York. I take pleasure in knowing that it was built to last for at least a thousand years.
As I was working I noticed that the way I designed the differential gearing actually created a spare drive that sat directly below the emperor’s feet, or where they would be if he were to sit in the chariot.
You see, my ambition was not to confound the engineering world but simply to create a beautiful piece of art.
He was so tenacious he defied the distraction of women by refusing to have them in his presence, just as later in life he denied his blindness by calling for more and more candles.