Sunday, October 18, 2009


Take a look at this video of a charming new piece by Pierre Mayer called "The Harlequin", which looks to be inspired by a classic automaton of old.

See more automata by Pierre Mayer on his web site.

[ Thanks Phil Sing! ]

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Siegfried and Roy automaton by Pierre Mayer

Here's a fantastic automaton by Pierre Mayer depicting magicians Siegfried and Roy. The video shows the magicians transport and transform. You also get an up-close look at some of the mechanics behind the magic! So cool.

See more of Pierre Mayer's magic automata on his web site.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

New site for the magical automata of Pierre Mayer

The magical automata of Pierre Mayer
My friend, collegue, and hero -- Pierre Mayer -- has a new web site featuring his amazing work! He specializes in contemporary wood automata that perform magical illusions. Be sure to check it out!

See all of Pierre Mayer's magic automata on is new web site.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Pierre Mayer's Siegfried and Roy Automaton

 Pierre Mayer's Siegfried and Roy Automaton
A new magic-themed automaton by one of my favorite makers: Pierre Mayer. Here we are given a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of how the magic happens!

From the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre shop:
The latest piece from Pierre Mayer is a homage to the legendary Las Vegas performers. The illusion that they perform here is known as The Substitution Trunk, and was popularised by Houdini.

Here's the Siegfried and Roy automaton page at CMT.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Automaton Magic - Lady Changes Dress Instantly

The good folks over at Cabaret Mechanical Theatre were kind enough to alert me to the arrival Pierre Mayer's latest magic-themed automaton: Valerie - The Quick Change Artist.

Here's the shop link to the Valerie Automaton at the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre online shop.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Automaton of Magician Doing a Levitatation Trick

I adore and admire the work of automata maker Pierre Mayer. Here is one of his recent pieces depicting a magician levitating from his stool. Simply amazing!

From the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre:

Fechner's Levitation on Stool Automata

The latest piece from French magician/automatist Pierre Mayer, this piece is based on the cigar smoking magician Fechner, who levitates above his stool, even more puzzling is that the arms raise during the levitation without any links to the mechanism -- many magicians have already been fooled by this!

Do visit the CMT online shop to see Fechner's Levitation on Stool Automata and MANY superb automata.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Featured Artist: Pierre Mayer

One of my favorite fellow automata makers is Pierre Mayer. Like me, he has made contemporary automata that perform and/or depict magicians and magic tricks.

Making an original contemporary automaton function is a challenge in itself. Making the automaton perform a trick that is actually somewhat deceptive or mysterious is a HUGE challenge. This is where Pierre Mayer's work stands out.

In this piece, the sequence starts with a small orange tree. The tree then blossoms, and bears fruit. Next an orange opens at the top of the tree and two butterflies fly out holding a silk handkerchief.

There is a long tradition of automata depicting magic tricks. The famous magician Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin started his career as a watchmaker -- a skill that served him well in his next occupation as a magician and automata-maker. He created the original orange tree piece that inspired Mayer's contemporary version.

The piece shown in the recent movie The Illusionist with Ed Norton borrowed from Robert-Houdin's piece, but showed the tree itself growing. Robert-Houdin's did not actually do that.

Check out Cabaret Mechanical Theatre's page on Pierre Mayer's Orange Tree Automaton

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Great Review of CMT Exhibit with Photo Sets

Over at the Pixelsumo blog, the author has a great review of a visit to the newly opened Cabaret Mechanical Theatre exhibit at Kinetica Museum that I told you about here.

The post features links to a huge set of flickr photos of the show itself.

Check out this great review of the CMT show at Pixelsumo.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre at Kinetica Museum

If you can be or will be in the UK between April 6, 2007 and May 5, 2007 you must visit Kinetica Museum located at Old Spitalfields Market, London.

Kinetica will be hosting
a major retrospective show on Cabaret Mechanical Theatre which includes more than 80 automata and a number of previously unseen works.

The show will feature artists including: Ron Fuller, Arthur Ganson, Tim Hunkin, Will Jackson, Pierre Mayer, Keith Newstead, Paul Spooner, and Carlos Zapata. (Many of my favorite artists are in that list!)

The exhibition will also include a series of talks and hands-on workshops by the founders of CMT and prominent British automata artists. Speakers will include: Tim Hunkin, Sue Jackson, Sarah Alexander, Will Jackson and Paul Spooner.

Learn more at CMT's Mechanical Blog or visit Kinetica Museum's site

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre (CMT) dates back to 1979, when a handful of automaton artists began to work together as an artists collective.

The group, founded in 1983 in Falmouth by Sue Jackson, moved to London’s Covent Garden shortly thereafter, where their collection of automata immediately received both critical and popular acclaim.

They produced a book (shown at left) that teaches about basic mechanics and the construction of automata.

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