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Jean-Pierre Gauthier:
Machines at Play

Akron Art Museum

In September 2008, Montréal artist, inventor and musician Jean-Pierre Gauthier began installation of “Machines at Play” at the Akron Art Museum. The exhibition, the first survey of the award-winning artist’s work, makes its exclusive U.S. appearance at the Akron Art Museum from Sept. 27, 2008 to Jan. 4, 2009.

Western Reserve Public Media recorded the full installation of the exhibit and created a half-hour documentary, Jean-Piere Gauthier: Machines at Play.

Gauthier’s exhibit is an interactive display of kinetic art, which is art that contains moving parts or that depends on motion for its effect. The moving parts are generally powered by wind, by motor or by an observer. Kinetic art was first created in 1913 by Marcel Duchamp in his sculpture called “Bicycle Wheel.” The movement then spread to Europe and North America.

Jean-Pierre Gauthier is a kinetic artist. He uses motion sensors to track the movements that people make. Through their motion, the displays either move or make sounds or patterns.

The first picture below shows the horns that are attached to Gauthier’s sculpture titled “Chants de Travail.” The second picture shows children moving within the sculpture to cause them to blow.

Let’s look at what you have to know to make kinetic art”

  • How to use simple mechanical devices: Gauthier uses pulleys, gears, wheel-and-axles, wedges, screw, levers and inclined planes throughout his work. You may have heard these tools referred to as simple machines.

  • The principles of waves (light and sound): What makes sound? How does light move? How are light and sound created? What do waves have to do with light and sound?

  • How to use mechanized devices: Motors, microphones speakers and wires are used to create sound. You need to know the basic principles of electricity to get these pieces of equipment operational.

  • How to get things to move: We need to look at the concepts of force and motion to determine what is necessary to make things move to create

  • The concept of kinetic art as “real” art


Project Coordinator
Lisa Martinez, Western Reserve Public Media


Teacher Guide Design
Maria Mastromatteo, Western Reserve Public Media


Content Specialists
Pat Mazzer, Kent State University

Sam Mazzer, Kent State University


Teacher Guide Layout and Design
Paula Kritz, Western Reserve Public Media


Paula Kritz, Western Reserve Public Media


Video Producer
Duilio Mariola, Western Reserve Public Media

Funding for Jean-Pierre Gauthier: Machines at Play has been provided by


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