Press Releases

Art That Lives Moves and Sings at the Akron Art Museum - Jean-Pierre Gauthier: Machines At Play

For Release: August 2008

Akron, Ohio, August 20, 2008 — “Careful, this exhibition is alive!” Jean-Pierre Gauthier, Montréal artist, inventor and musician, brings humor and poetry to his kinetic sculptural installations. Visitors will have the opportunity to interact with the art when Jean-Pierre Gauthier: Machines at Play makes its U.S. premiere at the Akron Art Museum. Eleven installations, several of which fill an entire gallery by themselves, are included in the exhibition, on view September 27, 2008 – January 4, 2009.

Using hardware and electronics store castoffs that he repurposes, Gauthier ingeniously transforms electrical cable, funnels, pulleys and other industrial and everyday objects into living, moving, singing organisms that chirp, swish and even draw. His dynamic installations invoke the opposing forces of order and chaos, permanence and fragility. Each work responds to viewers, inviting them to experience and interact with its visual, sound and moving parts.

A virtuoso of everyday reality, Gauthier sees and hears all the acoustic and metaphorical potential of the found object. In Rut, motors, wires, microphones, mixing boards and amplifiers are set in motion to create mesmerizing rhythmic and auditory movements. Steel tubes, water pumps, funnels, birdcalls, metal horns, carnival trumpet, glass coffee pot, tool box, electric wire, microcontrollers, relays and motion detectors come alive in Songs of Work. And in Beats and Butterflies (pictured above) viewers help compose the notes of a spectacular glistening piano as they move through the room. Gauthier in fact views all of his materials as instruments.

Born in Matane, Quebec in 1965, Jean-Pierre Gauthier has lived and worked in Montréal since 1986 and earned an M.F.A. from the Université du Québec à Montréal in 1995. Gauthier is the recipient of such prestigious honors as the 2005 Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award, presented by the Canada Council for the Arts to mid-career artists and the 2004 Sobey Art Award, the highest distinction awarded to a Canadian artist under 40. He has exhibited widely in Québec, across Canada, as well as in the United States and Europe. His one-man shows include Uncertainty Markers and Commotion Machines, at the Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton (2006), and Échotriste/SorrowfulEcho, presented at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts as the third project in the Freeform Series (2002). Notable among his group exhibitions are Electrohype 2006, Lunds Konsthall, and Transmediale.06 – Smile Machines, Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2006). His work was shown at the Musée in 1997, in Of Fire and Passion, an exhibition devoted to emerging artists, and in 1999, in the major exhibition entitled Head Over Heels – A Work of Impertinence that marked the transition to the new millennium.

First time ever: installation process is open to the public! The public is invited to learn the secrets that make these complex sculptures come alive by watching Gauthier and his team install in the Arnstein Galleries at the Akron Art Museum. The galleries will be open throughout the installation during regular museum hours from September 17 – 21 and September 23 – 26. Note: The team may take occasional breaks during the installation process.

Jean-Pierre Gauthier: Machines at Play is organized and circulated by the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, a provincially owned corporation funded by the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine du Québec.

This exhibition is made possible by a generous gift from the Ohio Arts Council with additional support from Lockheed Martin Corporation, The Mirapaul Foundation, Karl and Gayle Galan Reuther and an anonymous donor.


A 128-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition. It contains in-depth essays on the artist’s approach by Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal curator Pierre Landry; by musician Michel F. Côté, and by Ray Cronin, Senior Curator at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The publication also includes a bibliography and reproductions of his works and will be available for purchase for $32.95 in the Museum Store.

What Critics Have Said

"Walking into the large retrospective of his work … I heard someone comment, ‘Careful, this exhibition is alive.’ Even more engaging than the movement is Gauthier’s ability to play with live sound. It makes me feel as though I have entered the magical world of Dr. Seuss and his fantastical array of noisemakers.” (Christine Redfern, Montreal Mirror)

"His exhibition, the largest of the lot, is a long overdue overview of an oeuvre full of intriguingly complex, interactive, kinetic installations celebrating the music of the everyday, which will infuse you with an irrepressive joviality, I promise." (Isa Tousignant, Arts and Culture Editor, Hour magazine, Canada)

Image Credit: Jean-Pierre Gauthier, Beats and Butterflies, 2006, sound installation: piano, aluminum insulating tape, solenoids, motion detectors, relays, microcontrollers, transformers, miscellaneous objects, 64.2 x 56.7 x 89 inches, Collection of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay.

Exhibition-Related Programs

The Way Things Go
In the Jerry and Patsy Shaw Video Box
September 16, 2008 through January 4, 2009

This amusing and amazing 30 minute video by Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss chronicles an elaborate chain-reaction of events meticulously set up by the artists inside of a warehouse. Propelled by elemental forces like blasts of air, fire and gravity, everyday objects like tires, buckets, hand brooms, ladders and rolls of tape react with one another along a 100 foot long precarious structure. The Way Things Go is sure to tickle art and science enthusiasts alike. DVDs of the film will be available for purchase in the Museum Store.

Lecture, Jean-Pierre Gauthier speaks about Machines at Play
The Charles and Jane Lehner Auditorium
September 25, 7-8pm

Artist, inventor, composer, musician, the man behind the machines reveals the inspirations behind the inner workings of his playful, multifaceted kinetic sound installations. This event is free and open to the public.

Sketching in the Galleries
Gauthier, Generative Art and the Drawing Machine with Sarah Sutton
October 2, 6-8 pm, Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries

Sarah Sutton will lead a lesson in drawing techniques, answer questions, and provide participants with feedback as they draw in selected galleries. Drawing boards and paper are provided. Only graphite drawing media is allowed in the galleries. FREE for members and non-members with paid admission. For more information call 330.376.9186 ext. 230.

Studio Classes for Kids
Exploring Sculpture, Magnificent, Magnetic Moving Machines with artist Melissa Daubert

October 4, 11:30am -1:30 pm, Classroom
This class, part of a series geared towards 8-12 year-olds, allows children to investigate the Jean-Pierre Gauthier: Machines at Play exhibition and then explore connected media techniques in the classroom, ultimately creating a kinetic sculpture from magnets and wire. Advanced registration is required. Cost per class is $10 for members, $15 for non-members. For more information call 330.376.9186 x229.

Saturday Family Drop-in Day
Move and Groove Family Dance Party
October 11, 12-4 pm, Beatrice Knapp McDowell Grand Lobby and Corbin Family Foundation Gallery

DJ Schooly Dre spins tunes in the lobby that will get everyone from hip moms and dads to the tiniest tots busting a move! In the classroom, help artist Melissa Daubert create a giant wind-powered sculpture! Join museum docents and educators for special family-friendly tours of the Jean-Pierre Gauthier: Machines at Play exhibition! All activities are FREE for members.

Studio Classes for Kids
Exploring Sculpture, People-Powered Push Toys with artist Melissa Daubert
November 1, 11:30am -1:30 pm, Classroom

This class, part of a series geared towards 8-12 year-olds, allows children to investigate the Jean-Pierre Gauthier: Machines at Play exhibition in the Arnstein galleries and then explore connected media techniques in the classroom, ultimately creating a kinetic sculpture using wheels and axles, wire, rubber, fabric, paint and other mixed media. Advanced registration is required. Cost per class is $10 for members, $15 for non-members. For more information call 330.376.9186 x229.

Akros Percussion Collective presents Snap, Crackle, Pop!
November 2, 2-4 pm, Charles and Jane Lehner Auditorium

Talented, eclectic percussionists present an intimate concert/lecture demonstrating how modern and contemporary composers like John Cage and James Tenney used door buzzers, turn tables, brake drums, bongos, and tin cans to create some of the most innovative, classical new music of the twentieth century. FREE with first-come-first-serve seating. For more information call 330.376.9186 ext. 229.

Third Thursdays Concert & Cocktails
Live DJ Set and Circuit Bending Performance Demonstration by BEATRIX*JAR

November 20, 5 - 9 pm, Beatrice Knapp McDowell Grand Lobby
Sip a signature cocktail, enjoy an eclectic “fuzzy sound collage dance party” DJ set and circuit bending performance by Minneapolis’ cutting edge in-demand sound artists BEATRIX*JAR. Performance is FREE. Cash bar with happy hour specials. For more information call 330.376.9186 x229 or x230.

Special Everyday Art
Circuit Bending with Sound Artists BEATRIX*JAR
November 22, 1-3 pm, Classroom

Develop a whole new appreciation for electronic music as you transform low voltage, battery-powered electronic toys into musical instruments that generate surprising and unpredictable sounds. Cost is $25 for members, $35 for non-members. For more information call 330.376.9186 x229.

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Dominic Caruso
Design, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Phone: 330.376.9186 x229

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