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.

A Technological Terrarium: Automata artists at the Ogden

August 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

Under the auspices of the Kohlmeyer Circle, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and head curator Bradley Sumrall, the work of several Automata artists is now on display in the Ogden’s tunnel, to the back left as you enter, just off the atrium!

The opening night, August 6, was also the massive annual Warehouse/Arts District sweat-fest known as White Linen Night, which brought record crowds to the shows at the Ogden. An audience ordinarily not thought to pay attention to the mechanical rumblings and digital bleepings in the deep hollows of a downtown warehouse were introduced en masse to an intimate selection of the eccentric and sensible talents that make up an Automata exhibition.

The show runs through September 12. We will have a closing reception, TBA, with more artists and live music.

Thanks to Doug MacCash from the Times Picayune for the nods on White Linen Night!

Click here for the flickr collection (in progress) of the Technological Terrarium exhibition and events in the Ogden’s Tunnel.
Technological Terrarium at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art

ARTIST LIST (names in bold linked to web page):
Bob Snead

David Sullivan
“Identity Theft”

Taylor Lee Shepherd

Gumbo Labs
Sirens – Prototype I: August 2011
Mixed Media- CD, thread, foil, feather, electrons

Christopher Deris
Trees: 1, 2 & 3
Word Extractor Machine
” You took the words right out of my mouth”
(see video)
What if words were material? Maybe those perfect words you have always wished to say were just stuck in the back of your throat. Having a conversation would necessitate a unique set of tools.
Word extractors are delicately handmade pliers, reminiscent of antiquated medical instruments, elegant and outmoded. Designed to distill the act of communication down to an absurdly simple act of mechanically retrieving words from the mouth of another.
This is a machine, word extractor machine, that demonstrates the use of these tools by enacting an intimate conversation from the movie “Say Anything”.

James Goedert
Too Tall To Fix Small #3
Drawing Machines: Line and Color
battery-operated animals with ink pen legs take over a tabletop.

Kevin Brown
kinetic sculpture- dog

H. Cole Wiley
Building Bridges Out of Buildings
(click here to view artist statement)

Samuel Joyce
Observation on the Preponderance or Ponderousness of Modularity in Design
(Cyclops skeleton spy)

Adam Farrington
Trumpet Boats and Snag Boat
They will flap their wings.

With great thanks to Bradley Sumrall, Chris Voigt and the Kohlmeyer Circle, Sue Strachan and Ellen Balkin. Many many thanks to the security staff who turn the show on every morning, and to all who work at the Ogden. We look forward to more!


January 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

The work of Casey Curran ,who lives and works and shows in Seattle. I found out about his Ernst Haekel-inspired pieces through working on the Multispecies Salon 3: Swarm. Though we were not able to bring his work to New Orleans for the Swarm exhibit, I’m delighted we have another chance.

There are many artists, in New Orleans, Louisiana, and beyond, that I’d like to start off highlighting all at once. Let’s start here!

We are finally able to start the fundraising planning in urgency. A combination of previous obligations, holidays, and local tumult has delayed it all. We plan a three-fold strategy: kickstarter, local patrons, and corporate sponsorship. This year I’ll need to raise about 12-15 grand to pull off what I see is the next step.

The first Automata was run on a shoestring and a delayed month’s rent and the interest from out of state was surprising, let alone the crowds, people of all ages and walks of life who thoroughly enjoyed the magic. It’s apparent that without funding to bring in artists who work in kinetics, robotics, and beyond, that we could run the show as it stood last year– but that’s not the point. There’s a universe of ingenious inventors who are looking not just for places to show off, like at Burning Man or MIT, but for arenas to share ideas in. Louisiana is full of garage tinkerers and inventors, like everywhere else; our schools don’t teach trades any more- the knowledge and tradition is passed down from generation to generation.

This arena is something as a painter I have trouble summarizing and certainly can’t speak the language of; there are inventors and kinetic sculptors who are sponsored by institutions whose skills and ideas are integrated into industry– like biotech and biomedical and the infinite applications of robotics, and their ideas with backing bring more and more access to new materials and the finest of traditional materials; there are also those who work in trades who work with whatever they have, to create things of wonder for people they know. There are gearheads, train freaks, machinists, woodworkers, cam-grinders, magnetics attache’s, whimsy-makers, glossy-eyed programmers, people who like to blow things up… all of this makes Automata, and how it should be year after year. It’s a trade show, a theater show, and an art show.

I was inspired to pull together the first Automata by the work of the infinite cam-maker,Taylor Lee Shepherd and like-minded friends in New Orleans, whose work is not very well documented. We all found a great universe in Automata. I can see a lot in store for New Orleans beyond this show, whether we can raise money to bring in out of state artists or not this year. Please stay tuned for videos of last year’s show, and promotions to help us raise enough funds to bring in work like Casey Curran’s and others, from Massachusetts, the Bay Area, Austin, and Asheville. More artist highlights, too.

Visit videos of Casey Curran’s work on vimeo:
Blind Spot and more.

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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