Jean-Pierre Aubé regards his work as an artist as one of research, as a creative process akin to that of the scientist. He is inspired by his environment, and his works are based on natural phenomena in combination with artificial manipulations. They thus take on the form of functional nomadic objects, providing a means to apprehend a place through experience. Dubbed "phenomena retrievers", his works carry a poetic message, at once hopeful and alarmist, about mankind's impact on our ecosystem, and its fragility.
At Quartier Éphémère in 1998, Jean-Pierre Aubé presented Sedimentation, a work in which a mechanism filtered the contaminated waters of the historic St. Pierre River, and used the purified water to supply an aquarium full of goldfish. By tapping and then purifying its waters, Aubé drew attention to the contamination of this natural water source which, in the 17th century, marked the boundary of Montreal's first fortifications. In his 1999 work Prelude to Isolation the artist erected a wind turbine on Île aux Lièvres. The energy it accumulated was then used to reactivate the same turbine in a completely different setting, that of the Dare-Dare Gallery, where the mechanism whirled irrationally for the duration of the exhibition.
Since then, Aubé has been interested in Very Low Frequency (VLF) airwaves. VLF waves, which are found in nature and can also be generated artificially using different technologies, are able to pick up the sounds produced by the various phenomena that interfere with Earth's magnetic field. This interest prompted Aubé to integrate audio and hi-tech elements in his most recent work. In Finland, in 2002-2003, hundreds of kilometres away from manmade disturbances, the artist decoded and recorded the magnetic environment of the aurora borealis (VLF: Finland). Save the Waves, which was presented at the Darling Foundry, uses the voltage of the magnetic waves emitted by a nearby hydroelectric transformer, and Nocturne beats to the rhythm of the waves emitted by a lighthouse near the Passerelle Art Centre in Brest. By the very nature of his nomadic work, which favours experimentation through displacement, Jean-Pierre Aubé is ideally suited to take up the various foreign residencies available to artists. That is why, since 2002, Quartier Éphémère has collaborated with him in France, where he completed an initial residency at Mains d'Œuvres (Saint-Ouen), followed by a performance there of his works, and then a second residency at Passerelle (Brest), after which Nocturne was presented.
It is with great enthusiasm that the Darling Foundry has joined forces with both Mains d'Œuvres and Passerelle to assist in the production and dissemination of Aubé's art, in part through the publication of this catalogue, the first-ever of Aubé's work. It examines ten years of prolific creation by this artist, and is accompanied by a valuable critical and poetic text by André-L. Paré.
Artist and programmer, Jean-Pierre Aubé holds an MFA from UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal).