Artist Projects

Lead Feet and Nothing Upstairs: The History of the Lifelike


Susan Simpson

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.

Project Updates

  • 2007: Lead Feet and Nothing Upstairs premieres at the Manual Archive micro-theater in Los Angeles