Juan Fontanive 

Machine Language 

Saturday April 29, 2017 - Saturday, June 3, 2017

Opening Reception   Saturday April 29, 2017 7pm-10pm

Closing Reception: Saturday, June 3, 2017 2-4pm



Guest Spot @ THE REINSTITUTE is excited to present Machine Language, a kinetic installation by Juan Fontanive.  The new series of work will also be exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA), opening in fall of this year.


Just beyond the vision of dystopia lies a condition called normalcy. Capitalism has fashioned, reinforced, or subverted normative standards of what constitutes body, form and function.  The thaumatrope (an optical toy popular in 19th century, that depicted a bird on one side and cage on the other) symbolizes our understanding of the illusion of movement. Motion as the embodiment of ideas has long been influential in our worldview, ingrained in the mechanics of contextualizing history. The perturbations around modernity have fueled our understanding of dominant structures; illusion has been a variant of rationality. Art, the catalyst of a non-deterministic linear path, poses the idea that variation and structure do not necessarily need to be in opposition to one another. The beauty of paintingis the nebulous from which the work was created and how fate determines its value.


Juan Fontanive utilizes mechanical invention as a way to understand movement as the impetus for media. He looks to the intermittent mechanics of cinematography as an abstract for his installations. The work reflects a specific historical moment, which was the beginning of great industrial and cultural advancement. Yet it was also a time of emerging tensions between social and technological innovations, in the form of both systematic distrust and regulation. Fontanive challenges concepts surrounding film, painting, and installation, while exploring form and chaos.  Fontanive examines the relational  distinctions between metaphysical and fundamental concepts of action. His ‘animations’ conjure the beauty found in sequential and repetitive movement, while embracing mechanical chance and illusion.  The works evokes historic tensions between the prosperous Industrial Age ideology of unit-based progress, and modern sensibilities of expressionism and individualism.  


JUAN FONTANIVE grew up climbing the rusted iron bridges of Cleveland, OH. He drew machines at Montessori school and made claymations in high school. At Syracuse University, he majored in English and Textual Studies, while making 16mm experimental films. In 2004, while attending the Royal College of Art, London, he invented machines that breathe spirits into Victorian clocks. Currently his studio is in a buzzing factory in Bushwick, NYC.