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Photo and illustrations courtesy of La Machine

François Delarozière is beyond the typical artist; he’s the type of artist who makes city streets into theaters. Imagine over the top, larger than life puppets and mechanical sculptures like dragons, elephants, and other fantastical creations. These monumental works are hundreds of feet tall, weigh several tons, and move around spitting steam and water at onlookers. La Machine is the collaborative company behind these mechanical masterpieces, where Delarozière is the artistic director.

The machines and dramatic theater presentations are kept quite secret until the day that they make their debut on the streets of various cities. There are no announcements of projects, no social media plugs, nothing really to indicate when or where an unsuspecting audience will be dazzled with a truly unique surprise performance.

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François Delarozière

La Princesse, a large articulated spider, was the first creation to make an appearance on the streets of Liverpool in 2008. The spider came to life by several operators sitting on the contraption riding along with it while interacting with the public. The impact of the performance was so overwhelming for the public that it sparked what would eventually turn into more impressive creatures in other cities.

Current and past projects vary from musical contraptions that play with a symphony to abstract food-serving implementations that are reminiscent of Rube Goldberg inventions. He has developed numerous projects not only in the realm of urban planning (Animals of the Square, the Great Elephant and the Sea World Carrousel on the Ile de Nantes, the Magical Menagerie of Sénart, etc.), but also in that of street shows (Long Ma Jing Shen, Mécaniques Savantes, Symphonie Mécanique, L’Expédition Végétale, Dîner des petites mécaniques.).

Delarozière begins designing the machines by sketching them out in beautifully intricate blueprint style art pieces. Each drawing is breathtaking with details that are intense and slightly macabre, similar to the omnipresence of the final machines.

He studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and has spent over 20 years working in theatrical based productions and with the street theater group Royal De Luxe. He has also been described as an engineering genius, influenced by Leonardo da Vinci, Jules Verne, and Antoni Gaudí. Delarozière combines nature and architecture while calling on his roots, being raised by his father who was a builder and his mother who was a musician. He is prolific and his art is an indulgence to the senses.

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The dramatic performances of La Machine’s contraptions have an uncanny ability to leave you wanting more. Speaking of wanting more, Make: is happy to announce that François Delarozière will be at the Maker Media Lab in San Francisco. Find out more about his visit and talk on EventBrite.