Francois Junod

Master of the Automate

By Ron DeCorte

February, 2005

I can hear you asking "What is an Automate and who is Francois Junod?" An automate is a combination of art, sculpture, and mechanics used to create articulated, moving models resembling life and fantasy in all its forms. As for Francois Junod, let's just say that anyone who has ever experienced his art, and it’s truly an “experience,” considers him to be one of the world’s finest creators of Automate.

I first met Francois a few years ago when my friend Stewart Lesemann took a job with Vianney Halter in St. Croix Switzerland and rented an apartment adjacent to Junod's ateliers. Staring out the windows of Stewart’s apartment into Francois’ atelier, it wasn't long until I had my camera in hand and was standing at the door. Walking through the door I felt like Alice falling in the rabbit hole into a surreal world of fantasy mixed with just enough reality to challenge every aspect of my sanity.

And so, over the past few years I’ve quietly slipped into the wonderland of the Junod ateliers trying to record the ever-changing landscape that has captured my imagination. This documentary isn’t technical but rather a photo-essay for the mind’s eye. I’ll let the photographs speak for themselves and keep my commentary to a minimum.

Many of the images below can be clicked to view larger versions. Enter at your own risk, and be prepared for anything…


Francois and Sabine doing a bit of brain surgery


One of my favorites, in two modes.









The Birds...









Crash landing


Some of Francois’ tower clock movements.



Proceed to Part 2