The Penny Stamps series brings a large array of artists to give talks at U of M. It is part of the the School of Art and Design, but the free lectures are also open to the public. Yesterday's speaker in the Michigan Theater was François Delarozière, the artistic director of La Machine, a French theater troupe of craftsmen, performers and dreamers who create mechanical creatures and structures. These gargantuan constructions are breath-taking: Jules Vernesque visions of the future filled with kindly, automatonic monsters. It was truly inspirational to see the sketches and some of the work that goes into planning and constructing the machines, wholly unpractical and absolutely magical. But the most amazing element was how much a 37-ton hydraulic spider comes to life as it begins to move. Presumably because of a mixture of anthropomorphism and awe of discovery we seldom have past childhood, it was downright moving to see these steel and wood animals walking through the streets. As Delarozière stated, they are alive to us, because motion is life.
La Machine built a spider that "lived" in Liverpool in 2008.
Liverpool poster, via lamachine.co.uk.
An uncommon elephant in Nantes, via Liverpool 360º.
Delarozière will also be speaking tonight at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit at seven o'clock, for anybody who is local. I highly recommend it!