The Rebirth of Puppet Theatre

As one of the trailblazers of the rebirth of avant-garde puppet Theatre in America, Janie Geiser develops hypnotics, innovative installations, and performances that combine puppets, projection, and performing objects. Geiser’s work has been shown at The Walker Art Center, Redcat, St. Ann’s Warehouse, The Public Theater, and other places. Object Permanence, Geiser’s presentation at China Art Objects in 2014 in LA, featured photographs and one-channel movies. Geiser was awarded an Artist Fellowship by Los Angeles in 2006, for her work on The Spider’s Wheels. Look and Learn, one of Geiser’s most recent installations, was featured at Knoxville’s Art Museum. Geiser was also awarded a fellowship in 2011 by the California Community Foundation. Geiser has also been successful as an author. The Tornado Treaty, one of Geiser’s works, is in the Artists Book Collection of Moma. Currently, Geiser is a faculty member of CalArts and resides in LA.

Susan Simpson is a designer and multidisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles. Susan has been Automata Arts’ Artistic Director since the establishment was launched in 2004. Her practices include dioramas, animation, and puppet theater. She makes interactive public artworks and performances that are intimate and engaging. Susan’s works usually explore the mythology, social dynamics, and history of the sites where they are situated. As an experimental puppetry artist, Susan’s work revolves around experimental film projection and intricate marionettes.

Simpson’s original puppetry performances have been presented at The Durfee Foundation, The California Community Foundation, The Jim Henson Foundation, The Center for Cultural Innovation, The MAP Fund, Automata, REDCAT, The Santa Monica Museum, The Museum of Jurassic Technology, HERE in New York, among other venues. Susan Simpson is a recipient of the Richard Sherwood Award from the Center Theater Group, as well as funding from the financial group, Creative Capital. She also has design practice focused on kiosks, sculptural objects, and interactive cabinets for discovery and display. Susan Simpson has been commissioned by The Silver Lake Library, The City of Inglewood and Reading Hours Gallery, The Falcon Theater, The Readers Chorus, Gardens and Art Collections, and The Huntington Library. Other interests of Susan Simpson include designing a concrete time capsule for La Public Library’s SilverLake Branch. Simpson has received grants from the California Community Foundation, and the Durfee Foundation, She is also a member of Little Fakers and a faculty member at CalArts. Together with Janie Geiser, Susan Simpson presented Frankenstein: Mortal Toys in 2004 and 2005 at the Museum of Jurassic Technology, and the Velaslavasay Panorama.

Since its launch in 2004, Automata Arts has played a significant role in the advancement of puppetry performance, as well as pre-cinema, and other neglected or forgotten forms. Over the years, Automata Arts has become nationally renowned as one of the critical establishments for work that recontextualizes and redefines puppet theater and other overlooked art forms.