The blog of author Dennis Cooper

The sculpturOpéras of Gilbert Peyre *

* (restored)


‘The French artist Gilbert Peyre (born 1947) is impossible to classify: artist, inventor, D.I.Y. genius, mechanic or in the words of Ben Vautier a ‘Realist Tinquely’. But Gilbert Peyre really has nothing in common with any artistic movement at all. Since the beginning of the 1980’s he has enjoyed himself by endowing sculptures / objects with the ability to move which he shows in the window of his Montmartre studio before exhibiting them, for example, in the provinces, Paris (Centre Georges Pompidou, Halle Saint Pierre) and Berlin.

‘In his own sculptur Opéras as well as in his plastic art installations Gilbert Peyre makes alive his wishing, tender, fragile, affecting machines and denounces with a humour tinted with surrealism the ridiculous agitation of our society which does not stop taking itself seriously. Successively Plastic Artist, Stage Director, Visionary, this unclassable artist is mixing with grace the technology, the drama, poetry, the absurdity, and with nothing, says all to us.

‘Peyre is perhaps best known outside of France due to the prominent appearance of his mechanical devices in the films Delicatessan, City of Lost Children, Alien: Resurrection, Amelie, and Micmacs by the director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. French art critic Gilbert Lascault says: “The cosmos of Gilbert Peyre is at the same time a museum of Arts and Métiers, an engine room, a funfair, a music hall, an opera, a spectacle of conjurer or magician, a phantasmagoria, a ceremony, a liturgy, a cavalcade, a procession, a zoo, a circus, an orgy, a mechanical comedy, a comical apocalypse”.’ — Le Petit Festival du Theatre





L’exposition Jean-Pierre Jeunet/Marc Caro/Gilbert Peyre
à la Halle Saint Pierre (2019)



Gilbert Peyre Site
Gilbert Peyre @ Facebook
Gilbert Peyre @ youtube
Book: Gilbert Peyre, Fun de chantier’


Gilbert Peyre’s studio


from Cupidon, Propriétaire de l’immeuble situé sur l’Enfer et le Paradis (2009)


‘Visual artist and self-taught director, Gilbert Peyre is an inventor of automata. He sets objects in motion and for so long he has only worked from mechanical and pneumatic systems, he now calls on computer sophistication and surrounds himself with very specialized engineers.

‘But what dominates in this new proposition is the mechanical strangeness. Lights, colors, voices, sounds, music, tones, movements, appearances … everything is astonishing, everything is enigmatic. Peyre leaves everything in suspense. He does not give us the keys to his kingdom, he lets us watch him for an hour … and then, hop, the protagonists go backstage …

‘We sit in front of this sculpture which never ceases to come alive. We enter the book of a cruel and sarcastic, libidinal and sentimental tale, enchanting and distressing, funny and moving.’ — Armelle Héliot, Le Figaro

The Making of “Cupidon” sculpturOpéra de Gilbert Peyre


Selected works

‘La peur au ventre’ (2018)


‘Le Piano’ (2011)


‘Mangemange’ (2008)


‘Haltérophile’ (1987 – 1990)


‘Ballerines’ (2009)


‘Aquarium’ (1990)


‘le distributeur d’idées’ (2009)


‘Rap Danse’ (1998)


‘J’ai Froid’ (1998)


‘Rampeur’, détail de”Cupidon” (2009)


3 portraits of Gilbert Peyre (in French)



p.s. Hey. ** JoeM, Hi. Friends that can’t argue are either barely friends or really good friends. ** Misanthrope, Ha ha ha, that’s so true. Huh, great, about David. Very good to hear. Just reading your thought about it makes me crazy too. But you should be all computerised again as of today, am I wrong? ** Golnoosh, Hi! Yeah, nice dress, no? Thank you kindly about my posts, I do my best. I actually publish posts from my old blog here frequently. Today’s, for example. Whenever a post has an asterisk leading to the word ‘restored’, it has been reconstituted from my old, murdered blog. No, the old blog wasn’t diaristic, or not the posts. I was never interested in that. There were a lot more regular commenters years back, and that space could get pretty diaristic and very personal. I did sometimes do posts that were more personal and about my life or my work. But, for me, the blog became overly personal in general with fights and psychodramas and too much stormy, emotional goings on here, and it was exhausting, so, after one particularly messy blow out, I decided to do the blog in a less personal way, and I’m very glad I did. I think, given how I think about the blog now, I would feel uncomfortable restoring the more personal historic posts. It doesn’t feel right to me. But I might change my mind, you never know. Thank you for being interested in the blog’s history. It’s funny in Diarmuid’s book because he mainly writes about the blog as it existed back in those wilder days, and it’s been years since it was really like what he mostly describes. Take care, have a fun, post-heatwaved day. ** David Ehrenstein, That Sondheim guy has a quote for everything. ** Sypha, Oh, huh. Shows you how much I keep up on Tibet’s stuff, which means basically not apart overheard bits and pieces now and then. The ‘My Loose Thread’ paperback cover is definitely in the running for the all-time worst of my book covers. It’s true, it still annoys me, especially since the ‘MLT’ hardcover looked so great. I don’t even have copies of a couple of the books of mine you don’t have. I live in fear of someone ever reprinting ‘Antoine Monnier’, but luckily I don’t think there are more than a surviving handful out there. I only saw it offered for sale once for many thousands of dollars, and some weirdo bought it! ** Daniel, Hi, Daniel! Kind or true? I say the latter. Whoa, more rare things by you. Thank you so much! Wow. I don’t know Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle. That looks very intriguing. I’ll investigate that work. How’s the Giorno? Loveliness to see you, D! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. I like Jim Lambie. I recently did a Zoom interview thing with Richard Hell, and on the wall behind him was what I thought was a gold record, and I was very curious what record of Richard’s could have gone gold, but it was a Jim Lambie painting. Yes, you got the better weather too. It’s almost heavenly here today. And you managed to do a new episode! Excellent! Cant wait! ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Yes, the ‘Violet Quill’ lionisation wouldn’t happen now for the obvious reasons. New Queer Cinema definitely cut way into the popularity of reading fiction amongst gay guys, and when gay characters started showing up in TV series, that was kind of the final blow to the so-called golden age of gay lit. Hope all goes well with Robbins. I’ve heard Duma somewhere, not much though. I’ll dig further. ** Right. I feel pretty sure that a good 90+ % of you out there will not know the name Gilbert Peyre as his work is pretty much completely unknown outside of France other than the fair likelihood that you’ve some his robotic contraptions without knowing it in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s films like ‘Delicatessan’ or ‘Alien: Resurrection’ or ‘Amelie’ and so on. He mostly shows his things in his workshop in the Montmartre area of Paris, but there was big retrospective here a few years ago. His masterpiece is the opera ‘Cupidon’, of which there are some clips in the post, which is really amazing and will ideally travel outside France someday. Anyway, I did this post on him many years ago, and here it is again. Have fun. See you tomorrow.


Claude Lévêque
‘The title of the exhibition refers to a song by the American rock group The Cramps. The fly’s field of vision approaches 360° and the insect can break down the movement of an immediate threat through an ability to perceive almost ten times more images per second than a human being. Its augmented vision is directly linked to the sensory paroxysms that are one aspect of the installation.’

Human Fly (2019)


Michel François

Walk Through a Line of Neon Lights (2019)
Watch here


Keith Sonnier
‘Employing unusual materials that had never before been used, Sonnier, along with his contemporaries, Bruce Nauman, Richard Tuttle, Eva Hesse, Richard Serra, and Barry Le Va, called all previous conceptions of sculpture into question. Sonnier has experimented with materials as varied as latex, satin, bamboo, found objects, satellite transmitters, and video. In 1968, the artist began working with neon, which quickly became a defining element of his work. The linear quality of neon allows Sonnier to draw in space with light and color, while the diffuseness of the light enables his work to interact on various architectural planes.’

Mat Key and Radio Track (1972)
Watch it here

Lightbulb and Fire (1970)
Watch it here


Meghan Young
‘The Symphony in D Minor installation manages to capture the raw beauty of a thunderstorm in four cylindrical sculptures suspended 40 feet from the ceiling. Displaying rain drops and dark clouds, the imagery and sound is intensified when the installation detects movement. As soon as a person touches the sculptures, all hell breaks loose. Projections of rain and electrical charges are sent through the space.’

Symphony in D Minor (2012)


Leo Villareal
‘Leo Villareal works with pixels and binary code to create complex, rhythmic compositions in light. Firmly rooted in abstraction, his approach uses layered sequencing that results in open-ended and subjective visual experiences. Villareal’s works often reference organic systems and evoke—but do not illustrate—atmospheric elements in that emergent and unexpected behavior occurs without a predetermined outcome. Interested in identifying the rules and governing structures of systems, Villareal uses custom, artist-created code to constantly change the frequency, intensity, and patterning of LED lights. For Villareal, the essence and medium of his work is code; light and its phenomenological effect is its visible manifestation.’

Cylinder 2 (2012)

Double Scramble (2014)

Cosmos 4 (2013)

Cylinder (2013)


Paul Chan
‘Chan described the series The 7 Lights (2005-07) as “hallucinating the seven days of creation from dawn to dusk”. His projections included visions of floating objects and falling bodies that drew on themes of the Apocalypse and Revelation, as well as referencing images and events from our contemporary world. The exhibition title referred to light, and in particular to light that had been ‘struck out’. The tension between the two is central to the artist’s practice.’

1st Light (2007)


Bruce Nauman
‘Nauman enforces the contrast between the perceptual and physical experience of space in his sculptures and installations. Looking at the brilliant color emanating from Green Light Corridor (1970) prompts quite a different phenomenological experience than does maneuvering through its narrow confines.’

Green Light Corridor (1970)


Kyle McDonald & Jonas Jongejan
‘Kyle McDonald and Jonas Jongejan filled a darkened room with fifty disco balls and created colored and timed lighting sequences to cast mesmerizing reflections that surround visitors. However, rather than simply relying on scattershot reflections, McDonald and Jongejan used hundreds of structured light scans to capture the volumetric position of every pixel being projected by each of the three projectors. The pair then used SketchUp to predict the reflected pixel positions.’

Light Leaks (2014)



Town Without Pity/Audrey Horne (2013)


Mona Hatoum
Home consists of a long table covered with gleaming metal kitchen appliances. The table has a polished wooden top and heavy metal legs on wheels. The industrial connotations of the table are offset by the domestic kitchen utensils on its surface, including graters, scissors, a colander, a whisk, a ladle, salad servers, a sieve, a pasta maker, presses and a heart-shaped pastry cutter. Wires snake through the installation, connected to each utensil with crocodile clips. The wires conduct electrical currents to the objects periodically illuminating small light bulbs positioned beneath the sieve and colander and inside an upright grater. The current is controlled by a software programme that alters the frequency and intensity of the lights. Speakers amplify the crackling sound of electricity coursing through the wires and the metal objects. The sculpture is set back behind a barrier of thin horizontal steel wires that separates the viewer from the potentially lethal current.’

Home (1999)


Erwin Redl
‘Erwin Redl, an Austrian-born artist based in Bowling Green, Ohio and New York City, is best known for large-scale light installations for art museums, public buildings and corporations. His work transforms the medium of light into immersive, tangible experiences for viewers. His architectural environments translate complex mathematical algorithms and other methods inspired by computer code into contemplative, minimalist spaces further activated by his use of motion and rhythmic sequencing.’

Ascension (line 24), 2014


Atsuko Tanaka
‘Atsuko Tanaka, (born Feb. 10, 1932, Osaka, Japan—died Dec. 3, 2005, near Nara, Japan), Japanese artist who , was a leading avante-garde artist, best known for her experimental works of the 1950s and ’60s. Tanaka was an early member of Gutai, a radical group of Osaka-based artists founded in 1954. Many of Tanaka’s works involved electric light, the most famous of which, Electric Dress (1956), was made entirely of coloured light bulbs, cords, and fluorescent tubes that she wore as a dress during performances.’

Electric Dress (1956)


Daniel Rozin
‘Israeli-American artist Daniel Rozin (previously) creates performative objects that interact with the audience through mirroring. In his recent piece Cracked Mud (2019), a mound of clay pieces undulate and upturn in response to visitors’ movements below a low-hanging orb. The suspended light mimics the sun, hovering over the manipulated and cracked earth below. Another piece, Fabric Mirror (2019), uses a digital camera and 400 motors to capture the movements of those who walk past, imitating their gestures in twisting gold and red fabric. Both works allude to how the sun interacts with our bodies and the earth, the former representing a barren future, while the later explores our reflection bathed in shimmering gold.’

Cracked Mud (2019)

Fabric Mirror (2019)


Jason Ferguson
Domestic Carnival is an ongoing project that takes the specific rooms of a home and re-presents them as flashing amusement park rides, transforming intimate interior spaces into objects of mass spectacle. Within the room dark and foreboding music, two hundred pulsing lights, steel joists, and a trailer combine with a dining room table, chairs, and oak hardwood flooring to create a carnival that is both familiar and uncanny. The apparatus is engineered like a carnival ride; the entire sculpture is mounted on a custom trailer that collapses for transportation to its next destination.’

Domestic Carnival: Dining Room (2019)


Dan Flavin
‘In 1963, Dan Flavin began working with the medium of light: functional fluorescent tubes exhibited in their original state, without alteration or decoration.’

Demo for Installation of LED tubes


Sherrie Levine
‘Cast stainless steel. “I want to put a picture on top of a picture,” Levine says. “This makes for times when both disappear and other times when they’re both visible.”’

Light Bulb (2000)


Ed Atkins
‘Atkins is best known for works like Ribbons (2014), featuring iterations of drunken, soliloquy-spouting male protagonists who ruminate on perennial (and currently unfashionable) topics like love, loss, and loneliness. His work Even Pricks (2013) takes a slightly different tack. Atkins evokes his signature mood of quiet desperation with comparably spare methods, stringing together a series of vignettes that seem as indebted to the trippy avant-garde films of the 1960s as they do video-game cutscenes and contemporary cinematic tropes.’

Even Pricks (2013)


‘TUNDRA is a St.Petersburg based collaborative artist collective focused on creating spaces and experiences by exploring facets of interaction between audio/visual and human emotions. We specialise in multi-media performances and immersive audiovisual installations. Our multidisciplinary team involves musicians, sound engineers, programmers and visual artists. The team is known for works presented at festivals and museums of multi-media art in America, Europe, Russia, and Asia.’

Row (2020)


Nomad (2018)



Otto Piene
‘In 1957, Piene developed the Grid Picture, a type of stencilled painting made from half-tone screens with regularly arranged points in single colors (yellow, silver, white, or gold), for example Pure Energy (1958, New York, MOMA). Piene’s work then developed in a variety of forms. The Lichtballette (“light ballet”, 1959) was a development of the Grid Pictures; light from moving lamps was projected through grids, thus extending and stimulating the viewer’s perception of space.’

Light Ballet (1969)


David Batchelor
‘Batchelor is interested in the colours that you find rather than the ones that you make. So he’s been picking up discarded light boxes that typically advertise shops and restaurants (and that, he says, are one of the main sources of colour in a city), cleaned them up and mounted them to form a tall sculpture he called Magic Hour. The colours emanating from the light boxes are glowing against the wall and the public only see their reflection shining back at them.’

Magic Hour (2004-2007)


Leo Pyrata


Diana Thater
‘Featuring honeybees and a hive made of multicolored hexagons, knots + surfaces addresses a recent mathematical hypothesis that correlates a six-dimensional spatial model to the map of a honeybee’s dance. I’m working with animals that exist as individuals and as part of a complex social network that functions as a unit. Here, I feature the erasure of the video rectangle in order to create a multipart, puzzle-like image. Initially, the many components seem to form a single picture. However, when viewers walk into the projections, they penetrate the “bee space”; the one picture breaks into five and the surrounding bees become a vision of chaos.’

Knots + Surfaces (2001)


Larry Bell
‘One of the most significant artists of his generation, Larry Bell (b. 1939, Chicago) is an important representative of a West Coast minimalism that uses commercial and industrial materials and forms to create intense sensorial experiences. Best known for minimalist sculptures—transparent cubes and sprawling glass installations that thrive on the interplay of shape, light, and environment—Bell is considered a champion of the ideas of the Light and Space Movement of the 1960s. For decades, Bell has explored the new materials and modes of production developed by the military. His work during and after this period also reflects an interest in the scientific and technological experimentation taking place in Southern California. Hydrolux (1986) is complex fountain with live video projects, the work skews perception and critically invokes the viewer. As Bell’s only water-based sculpture that was executed beyond the model stage, Hydrolux demonstrates Bell’s constant inquiry into innovation, audience engagement, the surreal, and the sublime.’

Hydro lux (1986)


James Clar
‘James Clar is a media artist whose work is a fusion of technology, popular culture, and visual information. Actually, his work is an analysis and observation on the affects of media and technology on our perception of culture, nationality, and identity. His interest is in new technology and production processes, using them as a medium, while analyzing and critiquing their modifying affects on human behavior.’

Cube-a-tron (2007)

Line (2004)

Flexogrid (2008)

Dynomite (2006)


Kitty Kraus
‘The inherent fragility of Kraus’s mediums betrays established ideas about the stability and longevity of sculptural form. Such flaws are seen in Untitled (2006), in which illuminated lightbulbs are frozen inside ink-dyed ice cubes. Installed in the gallery at room temperature, the ice slowly melts, producing a meandering puddle of watered-down ink on the gallery floor, eventually leaving behind a stained and patterned path of dried ink.’

Untitled (2006)


Chris Fraser
‘In response to rapid demographic changes in the Mid-Market neighborhood of San Francisco, I created an interactive environment made of pivoting doors. I wanted the space to embody the uncertainty of a city in transition, a city of competing desires, a city that erases and renews. The arrangement of the space enforced a certain civility. Alone, a visitor could open the doors with abandon. With a friend, they could collaborate. But in a group, one had to navigate the space carefully to avoid harming a neighbor.’

Revolving Doors (2015)


‘The play entitled “The Well and the Gold Nugget” is inspired and brings to life the true story of villages in Sidoarjo, East Java swallowed by mud. Homes, places of worship, schools, playgrounds, small rivers, rice fields, historic sites and thousands of memories were buried forever. Many varieties of indigenous plants and animals also became extinct. Community social structures broke down and villagers lost trust among themselves, particularly over the issue of compensation for their loss. This incident – which occurred on a mythical scale in 2006 – was the result of a technical fault by the mining company which to date has yet to find a way to stop the never-ending flow of mud.’

The Well and the Gold Nugget (2018)




p.s. Hey. ** Ian, Hi, Ian. If our heatwave has actually broken, and it’s still too early in the day to know for sure, things will be well in Paris. Camping/ canoeing sounds awfully nice. Does fantasy baseball involve pitting actual real existing teams against each other, or do you construct your ideal fantasy team, or … I’ve heard of it, but, obviously, I don’t know what it is. Congrats on the win in any case. I have not read those Paglia essays you mention. I’ll try to find them. I’ve only read a bit of her, and honestly I wasn’t so into her thing, but it’s been ages. Thanks! Enjoy whatever your day offers. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Really intense is really good, obviously. ** Sypha, Hi. Yeah, I may well have done a post about her and our relationship a long time ago. Huh. Different kind of blog back then. Oh, Tibet edited a lit. anthology? That’s curious. Yeah, I need to order the Finbow. Oh, god, the 1989 edition. The worst book cover I ever was saddled with in all of my publishing history. I was almost in shock when they first showed it to me. ** Derek McCormack, Ha ha ha, hi, Derek! Love, me. ** Misanthrope, Hi. Blake went through a bunch of very difficult real life stuff for a while, but I think he’s back to being as fine as he can be. Wow, well, I hope David continues to like the job, and, more importantly, that the job continues to like him. Ugh, man, on the computer death. Hang in there with your phone until tomorrow then. ** JoeM, Hi. Well, if it’s the pic at the top of the entry about his book, then yes, it is. Maybe you  should read his book and find what’s going inside that face you like. I’m imagining that you’ve gotten into all kinds of arguments with all kinds of people, no? ** _Black_Acrylic, Yay, excitement creation! The ultimate achievement of which humans and their blogs are capable! Nice landlord, good. I think our heat has broken, at least a fair amount, although it still feels pretty muggy. I hope the big storm that came through here last night to try to kill the monster went through Leeds and had at least the degree of success it seems to have had here. ** Quinn R, Hi, Quinn! ‘Alice Knott’ is great. I love all of his work. He has in the past popped in here occasionally to comment, but he was never a super regular or anything. Oh, gosh, I don’t know about sending Bill Clegg your story. I’m completely inexperienced with that kind of thing. With both of my agents, I just ended up in their laps, as it were. You should probably ask writer friends who’ve been in the situation of seeking an agent. It doesn’t seem like an overly savvy/ confident move to me. I think maybe one gets more pragmatic about compliments as you get older. You’re able to gauge what they actually imply and mean better, and your confidence will continually rise. I’m someone who’s been very pragmatic about compliments pretty much my whole life. They mean a lot, but I’m wary of taking them to heart since people say and like what they do for mysterious and sometimes complicated and even selfish reasons — and the very same goes for negative criticism — and I’m always wary of second guessing people. So, yeah, I think you should fully enjoy the affirmations because you inspired them no matter where they’re coming from. I guess maybe just try not to fantasise about what they’ll lead to or something? I don’t know. It’s complicated but, yes, absolutely enjoy them. I’ll be interested to read your book review. You’ll alert everybody when it’s up? Hm, I wrote some pretty negative reviews back when I was writing reviews, and of queer books too, and, yeah, there were people involved with said books who were not happy. But some people not liking you is part of the deal. I wrote a quite negative review ages ago of ‘The Violet Quill Reader’, or whatever it was called, and that review got much blowback. Felice Picano permanently stopped talking to me. But, at the time, there was this move to create a gay lit. hierarchy where the ‘Violet Quill’ were positioned as the greats, and I really hate hierarchies, so my ire was more about that positioning than the writers, although I think I was kind of snarky about the writers in that review too. I don’t regret publishing it. And if it had a tiny part in the ultimate derailing that attempt to make the ‘Violet Quill’ a kind of gay lit Olympus, I think it was worth it. Anyway, blah blah, I wouldn’t worry. There are those, and maybe even many more of those, who respect when a writer throws caution aside and speaks his or her or their truth. I do, even if I don’t personally agree with the writer’s assessment. My novel is just sitting and waiting for its release date to be scheduled. Still working on fund-raising for the new film, and some interesting possibilities are out there. The main thing I’ve been working on is trying to turn the script of the doomed TV series project into a script for a feature film for Gisele to direct. And I’m pretty happy with how that’s turning out so far. We’ll see. Anything you’re working on that’s exciting you? ** Bill, Wow, ‘The Hole’. I really liked that film. It’s been years. It holds up well, huh? That would be a fun rewatch. What’s in-progress in and around you? ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Ah, that makes sense. Everyone, Mr. Erickson has finished a new music track that is now available for your streaming pleasure. In Steve’s words: ‘I finished “PAW (Cult of the Gish Gallop)” today. I had to put it through a filter to control the distortion, but that also toned its dynamics way down and made it sound fairly quiet. Here ’tis‘. It’s so cool you’re working with Ira Robbins. I hope he loves the interview. ** Okay. Get lit. See you tomorrow.

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