“The materials guide me to the solutions.”

Jean-Pierre Gauthier is a multidisciplinary artist who, for more than twenty years, has explored the kinetic and sonic qualities of the materials he uses to produce his installations. Situated somewhere between order and chaos, permanence and fragility, orchestration and random behaviour, his recent projects show a heightened interest in musical composition. His work titled Orchestre à géométrie variable is a programmable installation made up of six sound murals that serve as the platforms for nineteen compositions which draw on a wide range of musical genres with multiple influences.

The electronic network developed for each of the murals is the product of painstaking engineering. In addition to a flowchart-like wireframe that unfolds in the space, making the operating diagram of the work and its various hierarchical levels readable, this spatialization of the network satisfies concerns of a sonic as well as a graphic order.

Each piece of wood, designed and custom-made for the various invented musical instruments, is the result of a meticulous process employing the skills used in crafting stringed instruments. These carved elements define the sonic latitude covered by each instrument. Complementing this engineering, instrument-making, drafting and musical effort is that of composer, as the orchestration of the instruments must be effective so that scores can be invented, programmed and then performed autonomously in an exhibition setting.

The mechanization of the movements by means of a program of electronic controls is translated into scraping, striking and sliding noises. The arrangement of sonic events and the modulation of their frequencies and intensity allow a musicality that is revealed throughout a piece that is punctuated with trials, modelling and unexpected occurrences. In this way, the sounds become melodies, the installation becomes an orchestra and its inventor combines in a single work the action verbs that apply to the visual artist, the composer and the conductor.