Here is a remarkable film courtesy of automata enthusiast Sergio Pinese. The film profiles British artist Sam Smith in the year 1976. While perhaps not an automaton-maker strictly speaking, Smith's work had a distinctly toy-like quality to it. Many of the figures are articulated and some pieces were in fact animated.
In his book, Automata and Mechanical Toys, Rodney Peppé singles out Alexander Calder, Jean Tinguely, and Sam Smith as seminal figures in the emerging field of contemporary automata. He even refers to Smith as "the father of modern automata". This illustrious title is bolstered by Smith's own art and the fact that he personally encouraged artists Frank Nelson and Peter Markey to pursue automata-making. We are lucky to have such a splendid glimpse at the man, his words, and his work in this film.
Read more about Sam Smith and the start of contemporary automata in the first chapter of Automata and Mechanical Toys.
[ Thank you Sergio! ]