mission & history

Photo: "Frankenstein (Mortal Toys)"

Automata is a non-profit organization located at 504 Chung King Court in the Chinatown District of Los Angeles. We are dedicated to the creation, incubation, and presentation of experimental puppet theater, experimental film, and other contemporary art practices centered on ideas of artifice and performing objects. Automata stands at the fulcrum points between objects and performance, artifacts and ephemera, magic and mechanics, artifice and interface.

We are dedicated to creating and nurturing new work that is engaged in cutting edge art practices, and in deep conversation with our contemporary culture of simulation and mimicry while embracing the aura of the handmade and hand-operated. We seek to radically redefine and re-contextualize the notion of object performance, locating it at the intersection of contemporary performance, media, visual art, sound art and experimental writing.

Automata has a particular interest in intimate viewing situations, similar to those that have been the provenance of traditional puppet theater and early film: living rooms, storefront windows, and tiny theaters. We are interested in the intimacy and informality that exists when the artists and audience can actually see each other.

Automata was founded in 2004 by artists Susan Simpson and Janie Geiser. Since that time, we have been presenting intimate performances of original work, film screenings of contemporary and historical avant-garde film, lectures, workshops, and exhibitions in a variety of spaces in Los Angeles. We have invited playwrights and composers, puppeteers and designers, visual artists, and new media experimenters to collaborate and create new works using performing objects. From 2007-2009 we operated The Manual Archives, a micro performance and exhibition space dedicated to newly invented folklore for the city of Los Angeles.