Automata Arts

Los Angeles, CA

Automata Mission and History


Automata, located in Los Angeles, California, is a non-profit organization 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. Founded in 2004 by artists Susan Simpson and Janie Geiser, and joined in 2012 by Managing Director Miranda Wright, Automata has been creating and 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 the Los Angeles.  Automata seeks to radically redefine and re-contextualize the notion of object performance by taking an art form that is frequently marginalized and locating it at the intersection of contemporary performance, media, visual art, music, sound art and experimental writing. Automata is 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 (digital, robotic and otherwise), while embracing the aura of the handmade and hand-operated.


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, storefronts, and tiny theaters. We are interested in the intimacy and informality that exists when the artists and audience can actually see each other. Instead of performing to 600 people at once, we prefer to perform a show twenty times to 30 people. This intimacy allows for interaction and dialogue, and for genuine community to develop. To encourage dialogue, every event has a post-show social component. We are deeply interested in the confluence of Automata’s work with the life of the neighborhood and the city, and use storefront exhibits and performances as attractions, as art, as peepshow and workspace, as direct interface with the life of the city.


Automata stands at the fulcrum of objects and performance, artifacts and ephemera, magic and mechanics, artifice and interface. We are dedicated to work which explores, merges, or subverts these forms in unexpected ways. We have presented original performance work by Laura Heit, Susan Simpson, Janie Geiser, Clare Dolan, Eli Presser, Caitlin Lainoff, Alison Heimstead, Beth Peterson, Paul Zaloom, Marsian DeLellis, Katie Shook,Weba Garretson, Carole Kim, Yulya Dukhovny, and others. We have presented programs of early and experimental films, including work by Warhol, Perry Hoberman, Jordan Biren, Lewis Klahr, janie Geiser, Laurie O’Brien, Carole Kim, and others.


Automata is an artist-driven organization. We have, since our first performances in 2004, created a context in which visual art, performance, film/video, interactive technology, and experimental writing intersect with the puppet and its contemporary siblings. Working in a variety of existing spaces in Los Angeles, we have invited playwrights and composers, designers, visual artists, and new media experimenters to collaborate and create new works using performing objects. In 2012, we found a permanent space in Chinatown,Los Angeles where we now present performances, screenings and exhibitions, window installations, and we have become a site  for new work development.