Drawing inspiration from Alexander Graham Bell’s tetrahedral kites and proto-flying machines, Dylan Gauthier’s 2016 Emerging Artist Fellowship project, Accidental Flight, considers both the literal and figurative connotations of flight, innovation, and the artist as inventor.

“The title accidental flight came from a writing project my wife and I were working on back in 2011, (though it turns out its also the name of a 1952 book by a little-known sci-fi writer, Floyd L. Wallace chronicles a group of physically disfigured misfits who have been banned from a society in which everyone is perfect devise an escape into relevance…and ultimately fails.)” Gauthier explained that he and his wife were researching different ways in which artists and artistic styles historically took flight. “Our writing was focused on histories of artists who tried to fly, quite literally, but also this precarious place that artists traditionally occupy in society: what does it mean to devote our lives to art, what is expected of us as artists and what do we expect in return, how do we live, and what is or should be our role be in the world?”

Reflecting on Bell’s approach to invention, Gauthier sees a semblance between Bell the inventor and contemporary, interdisciplinary artistic practices: “Bell’s working process was very scattered, his focus split between any number of disparate projects at the same time. Practicality or marketability was not the only directive in his exploration. By his own account, an inventor should first and foremost commit themselves to helping others. ” Accidental Flight is not an homage to Alexander Graham Bell, exactly but rather a paean to experimentation and the many failed attempts that spring forth from them. Consider, for example, that Bell and his collaborators spent nearly 20 years attempting to build the first manned flying machine, with innumerable unsuccessful versions of the concept and only a few very short flights.

Accidental Flight is perhaps also a metaphor for our current ecological situation and a path of invention that might lead us to safety. At Socrates, Gauthier’s kite sculpture does not fly, it is intentionally and resolutely grounded – and yet its very presence points to a potential (wind) energy that it cannot yoke.

Throughout the exhibition period of EAF16 (September 26 – March 12) Gauthier is publishing monthly kite scores, available for download here. At Socrates, Kite Score Flying Performances will complement these publications each month: his next performance is scheduled for Saturday, October 22 at 4PM. Click here for the full schedule.