It’s called Jller, named for the German river where its rocks are sourced. It starts with a seemingly random pile of small pebbles, and finishes with a series of neat little rows lined up on a tabletop.
“A set of pebbles from the Jller are placed on the 2×4 meter platform of the machine, which automatically analyzes the stones in order to then sort them,” states the description on Jller’s Vimeo page.
“The sorting process happens in two steps: Intermediate, pre-sorted patterns are formed first, to make space for the final, ordered alignment of stones, defined by type and age. Starting from an arbitrary set of stones, this process renders the inherent history of the river visible.”
The project is the brainchild of Prague-born artist Prokop Bartoníček and German Benjamin Maus, who have created the machine with the aid of the Czech-German Future Fund.
What’s the point of sorting rocks? Though the engineering behind the machine is elaborate, there doesn’t appear to be a practical use.
It’s a “very complex machine that’s doing nothing very special,” Prokop recently told Wired.
But it’s mesmerizing nonetheless: