Mardi Gras Laughs at Mortals & Robots

February 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Once again, the hubris of trying to accomplish anything practical on this physical plane, that might involve gears and cogs of any material, is foiled by the grand spectre of Carnival– it’s all around us.  Mardi Gras does not give a sh*t.  Mardi Gras is eating all of our hadron collidors.  So, friends of Automata, and prospective participants, here’s our last attempt before a respectably slight period of rest after the big day itself, at a brief update, and reassurance that business is never usual.

Your humble rouser of makers of machines of wonder wishes to convey the following:

The deadlines are meant only as sign-posts.  We are working with individual artists regarding any extra financial considerations and calculating the basic costs of running Automata this year, from our Ogden gala to the flying robot parade to the takeover of the Ironworks to the pitcher plant choir planned for Models and Miniatures…  You need only contact us to begin this discussion.  Otherwise, as usual, the curious are welcome to contact us for participation almost to the month of the show.

FLYING ROBOTS?  We are doing it for the children!  Krewe of Spy vs. Spy hereby declared a true phenomenon.  We will hold a picnic and parade, tentatively set for Sunday, Nov. 18.    Specific details should be nailed down later this spring.

In the meantime, if you have any questions and need to speak to us right away, you will find us here:


Automata 2012

January 4, 2012 § 2 Comments

We’re pleased to announce the preliminary schedule for Automata 2012:

*updated 1/21/12* SATURDAY, NOV. 3:  Special preview evening in the Patrick Taylor Library at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, featuring Silver Apples.  (please see following entry for further details)

SATURDAY, NOV. 10: Models and Miniatures opens at Barrister’s Gallery (through Dec. 2).

SATURDAYS, NOV. 17 & 24: Automata at The Ironworks.

Deadlines for proposals and submissions (*UPDATED 1/12*):

General proposals, for any exhibit:  September 1.

Grants and travel funds will have to be worked out in advance of our fundraising efforts, as we need to make a budget projection.  Please contact us by Feb. 5 if you can only participate with financial help and seek it in partnership with our resources and efforts.  We are talking with artists and groups about budget concerns and making plans now.  We intend to apply for a kickstarter fundraising page by the end of February.  We encourage anyone out of state to contact us about coordinating travel expenses with others from your region.


“A large figure seemed to me false and a small one equally unbearable, and then often they became so tiny that with one touch of my knife they disappeared into dust. But head and figures seemed to me to have a bit of truth only when small.”

Call for project proposals:
Models and Miniatures centers around the maquettes and miniatures of mechanical sculpture and tiny universes- this is an experimental garden focusing on distortions of perspective, biological material, and the proving ground for the future of Automata in general, in the intersections of science and art. The heart of this exhibition will be the pillars of traditional mechanical and kinetic sculpture in model and miniature form; all other proposals should touch on bio-art and the use of art in science and vice-versa, towards the creation of this garden/universe of miniatures. Barrister’s Gallery is a traditional gallery- the indoors is climate-controlled and we will be making use of the courtyard and grotto for outdoor projects. Project proposals do NOT have to be miniature in a literal sense. The overall effect of a garden means that though each project or work of art will stand on its own, the display will not be traditional, and it will be the decision of the curator how the work will be integrated into the overall exhibition, while maintaining the integrity of each work and artists’ intent.

AUTOMATA at the IRONWORKS – our 3rd year:

Call to artists for the 3rd annual Automata exhibition, once again at the Ironworks warehouse at 612 Piety St. in New Orleans! Bring In the Machines.
Mechanical and kinetic sculpture, indoors and outdoors, from traditional automata to the digital and biological and all creaking and clanking and beeping and atomic things in between. This year, proposals for Rube Goldberg machines are highly encouraged.

We’re happy to say that the Ironworks warehouse is becoming more and more weatherproof, and there is ample indoor and outdoor exhibition space for projects of all sizes and capabilities. There are many architectural elements to the building and grounds that can be taken advantage of.

Depending on our fundraising capabilities and success in coordinating with out of state artists, the goal once again is to arrange for consolidated transport from several regions. If you would like to come to New Orleans to be part of Automata, we will do our best to arrange for free or cheap and comfortable accommodations, and to work out the logistics of transporting your work safely here and back. We will need your participation in fundraising efforts to make this possible!

We will hold a fundraising series this spring, first to secure costs of the show. Our main goal once again is to provide grants to artists for materials and projects, as well as to import artists and work from outside New Orleans. Our priority is with local and regional artists, but we’re looking forward to bringing back artists from Alabama, N. Carolina and Texas as well as artists we’ve had our eyes on from points far north, northeast, and west!  Look for our now annual Cheap Art Auction and BBQ Raffle in the next few months! Automata and Models and Miniatures are open to international artists, but our ability to help ease the costs of participation is very limited- this should not dissuade you or anyone else from contacting us: or in the comments below.

This life is a fine life!

Automata 2011 wrap-up; the marathon begins anew.

August 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Let’s make this a straight-forward and practical missive! Automata 2011 went beautifully- we have a full-fledged fledgling society in New Orleans. Automata is another lively forum of ideas and inventions, in practice and imagined, that follows in line with the alchemist’s dictum: as above, so below. Digital hackers, academics, garage tinkerers, auto mechanics, cabaret dancers, blacksmiths, scientists, gardeners, carpenters, bartenders, entrepreneurs and architects are all intrinsic to the spirit of Automata and what it brings to life in New Orleans.

Also, we’re truly delighted to be part of the great exhibitions at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art this summer. The Kohlmeyer Circle is working towards including technology-based artwork in the museum environs, and we reap the benefits of a new friendship with the staff of the Ogden. This includes the opportunity to start connecting skilled artists with students who want to understand the possibilities of technology and science outside the requirements of the classroom. We hope to work with the Ogden and other institutions who have built up solid educational networks to connect our artists with students, young and old, who can learn from our interdisciplinary approach to art and science.

Some press from Automata 2011 at the Ironworks
(click bold type for links)
Times Picayune:
All Automata articles! – from Doug MacCash to NolaVie essays–

Walk-through video of the 1st weekend of Automata by Inside Art writer and Gambit Weekly critic D. Eric Bookhardt!

Georgia Kennedy!

Nicola Krebill on flickr: Automata 2011
(any others: stories, photos, videos, reviews, please pass them on.)

Thanks to:
Everyone who worked their asses off, to fund-raise, to set up, to finish their pieces in the nick of time, and to keep them running. Also thanks to Simeon Coxe (Silver Apples) and Wynn LeVert (Amphibian Lark) for the icing and flourish and essence of the cake, and vicariously, our first real sponsors: Euclid Records, New Orleans and PRESS STREET and the Allways Lounge.

Special appreciation goes to Gilbert Buras of the Ironworks and the true gears and cogs of 2011: James Goedert, Bob Snead, Leslie Selting, Tallulah Elvis Poodle, Ember Soberman, Kourtney Keller, William Kirchheimer, James Weber, Lefty Parker, Mark Koven and the N. Carolina crew, and others I will edit this entry to add ad infinitum for awhile.

Also thanks to everyone who supported us with our insane and intense fundraisers– raffle donors, artwork donors and labor and flavor (like: really good cooking &/or drink making) and time donors; host bars and houses, and EVERYONE WHO SPENT MONEY. ALSO EVERYONE WHO MADE STUFF AND DONATED IT SO PEOPLE COULD SPEND MONEY THAT WE SPENT MAKING AUTOMATA HAPPEN. Thank you.

Thank you.

I’m amazed at and grateful for the enthusiastic support of Automata at our fundraisers and the show– from businesses willing to donate, to strangers, art lovers, and unexpected people who suprised me constantly by their excitement and willingness to drop a dollar and their 13th hour on this show. We have benefited from the positive lessons that the Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs have taught us about how to live well and truly. For Automata to survive as a beneficial organism, we must live up to this inspiration.

There is a lot to plan on for fall of 2012. We have already begun. The tentative anchor month is November (of 2012! do not panic but don’t delay).

We plan this time to bring in a contingent from the west coast- the excuse being: Return of the Swarm!

Give them full freedom to run autonomously and take over planet Earth, so long as New Orleans remains the Mothership. Expanding from our designs on the geniuses of Louisiana, N. Carolina and Texas, this West Coast contingent will allow us to bring in quite a catch.

I’ll post this again, but here is a basic break-down of 2012 plans:

The show will be tri-parted and display locations diverse.
A Rube Goldberg Machine Competition
Automata, weekend one and two
Models and Miniatures (a Kircherianum)

I’ve long included “bio art” in the description of and calls for Automata, but this year we are going to concentrate on including bio-art as it relates to the spirit of this show. As a diversion, and long necessary, we are duty-bound to introduce and host a Rube Goldberg Machine Competition to this region. The rest follows….

If you are in New Orleans and interested in being part of Automata 2012 please leave your contact information- we are about to begin weekly meetings and are looking for people with all kinds of skills and ideas to come on by.

Closing Night & Silver Apples

April 7, 2011 § 1 Comment

This Saturday from 5-9 pm is the closing night for this year’s Automata! The work from North Carolina by Mark Koven, Ben Reid, and the turbine swing team has gone back home, and new work is coming in from around Louisiana to augment the work that is still on display (see the artist list). Here’s a great review by Doug MacCash of last week’s opening night. Congratulations to all Automata participants! I’ll post all videos and links to photos and press in the coming week.

Join us at the after party at the Allways Lounge this Saturday, featuring the legendary Simeon of the Silver Apples. We are very proud to feature an installation by Simeon at the Ironworks and really really looking forward to this show! If you are a tried and true Silver Apples fan, please get to the Allways early. Doors at 9- the Ironworks and all of the machines will shut down at 9:30 sharp.

A big thank you to our sponsors Euclid Records and the Allways Lounge. Go buy your Silver Apples records at Euclid! There are many more to thank, but that will take a new page soon.


If you are wondering “what are Dead Baby Dolphins,” besides the recent phenomenon discovered in the Gulf of Mexico, here is an image of their instrument, “the destruction party troll troll troll troll 14 needle record player:”

photo by Justin Peake

Festina Lente

November 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

One more week till the opening of Multispecies Salon 3: Swarm here in New Orleans. The anchor site of this show, The Ironworks, is the location for Automata.

One more week and you’ll hear a lot more from me.

Please keep sending kinetics artists this way, and get ready to roll.

Call to Artists!

September 24, 2010 § 2 Comments

kinetics, robotics, new media, bio art

Call to artists- please forward and post.

Outside New Orleans– deadline for submissions:  February 18, 2011
Inside Louisiana: contact by Feb. 18.

The Old Ironworks warehouse, 612 Piety St.
New Orleans, Louisiana

April 2-9, 2011
Open Saturdays, 5-10pm
with special appearance by The Engine on a given Sunday,
and by appointment

Companion exhibit:  Models and Miniatures
(location TBA)
kinetic models and studies, miniatures, cabinets, and dioramas

This is our second exhibition of kinetic sculpture in New Orleans.  It is open to any and all artists working in kinetics, robotics, programming, models, machinery, and bio art.  Submissions for the companion exhibition, Models and Miniatures, is open to anyone working in the above arenas as well as miniatures, cabinets, or dioramas.


Images of sample work or proposed work for Automata or Models & Miniatures, with brief description and contact information.

Please send submissions to:
Myrtle von Damitz lll

or leave a comment on the blog.

Images of Ironworks on Flickr.

This is an early notice— I am working on funding sources, including Kickstarter.  If you are able to assist in volunteering or in funding sources, including grant opportunities and private sponsorship, please let me know.  Our fiscal sponsor for any donation is The Black Forest Fancies, a 501C3 non profit based in New Orleans.  I would like to provide for shipping of work from outside New Orleans for the show as much as possible, as well as assist artists and tradesmen in New Orleans with materials.  I’m happy to help arrange for host lodging for any artist who can make the trip to New Orleans for the show with their work.  If anyone is willing to drive to New Orleans with work from any region in the U.S., please send me a note.

Link to the  review by Doug MacCash in the Times-Picayune of the first Automata at the Candle Factory in May, 2010.

Myrtle von Damitz lll


September 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Here I’ll highlight kinetics, new media, and bio artists in New Orleans, around the U.S. and the world, and update developments on Automata, the annual kinetics sculpture show in New Orleans.

The next Automata is April 2-16, 2011 at the Old Ironworks, a warehouse at 612 Piety St. in the Bywater.   Kawliga Studios at 3331 St. Claude Ave will host a companion exhibition of kinetic models and studies, and miniatures.

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