Los Angeles, CA
Susan Simpson is an experimental puppet theater artist. Her work often involves intricate marionettes and experimental film projection. She is the co-founder, with Janie Geiser, of AUTOMATA, an organization devoted to the advancement of puppet theater, pre-cinema, and other forgotten or neglected forms. The pair presented Frankenstein: Mortal Toys by Eric Ehn at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in 2004 and at the Velaslavasay Panorama in 2005. Simpson’s Pseudoflora was at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in 2001. She is a member of the Little Fakers, creators of the marionette serial, Sunset Chronicles. She has received grants from the Durfee Foundation and the California Community Foundation and is on the faculty of CalArts in the Cotsen Center for Puppetry and the Arts.
Lead Feet and Nothing Upstairs: The History of the Lifelike
Lead Feet and Nothing Upstairs: The History of the Lifelike is a puppet show tracing the history of the simulated body. Part variety show, part lecture, this performance portrays the questionable motives, extraordinary methods and unsettling repercussions of creating the illusion of life. Lead Feet tells the story of the Ditto Sisters, a set of identical triplets who set off a rash of architectural, and perhaps human, replication in Los Angeles. Touching on the mysterious disappearance of ventriloquist William Wood, Lead Feet sheds light on the long history of small children and dwarves in the casts of marionettes shows, and conducts a comparative analysis of mechanisms for a lifelike eye roll. With miniature scrims, projectors and mirrors moving amidst the marionettes creating projected bodies of puppets playing dummies, pixels playing puppets and puppets playing people invoking automatons, Lead Feet is a multi-layered exploration of fakery and the willing suspension of disbelief.