See, Saw, Hear

Sound Installation Takes Divine Inspiration

Prolific Swiss artist Zimoun has established a worldwide reputation for his signature sound art installations which embrace movement and seem to celebrate simplicity. This austere aural and visual aesthetic sensibility provides a striking counterpoint to the grand vaulted ceilings of the former church in which his latest installation, 150 prepared dc-motors, 270kg wood, 210m string wire is featured.

In this latest work 150 motorised see-saws strike the floor of the building, seemingly at random, creating a mesmeric cacophony of sounds, as the noise reverberates at an almost impossibly slow pace.

The title is fittingly rudimentary. Zimoun is not one for using flashy materials and making them the stars of the show – instead it’s the way they transform the spaces around them that really seems to be important. “I’m interested in simplicity and complexity at the same time: simplicity in the system and complexity in the behaviour that develops out of the system,” he explains.

We caught up with Zimoun to talk about his latest site-specific work:

The Plus: What do you think the church adds to the overall feeling of the work?
Zimoun:
The resonance properties of the church are very interesting. Even very small sounds get amplified because of the architecture and materials. Whilst these tiny sounds are amplified on one hand, they are also getting reverberated from all around the space. In that sense the church is influencing the sound and our perception of it tremendously.

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TP: Your works are characterised by very simple design and understated aesthetics. What’s the thinking behind that?
Z:
Part of this interest in simplicity is the focus on simple and raw materials, unspectacular materials from everyday or industrial use. These are things we normally find around us and which are not made to look nice – actually from my point of view they often have great aesthetic qualities.

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TP: What other artists do you like at the moment?
Z:
Whilst there are many artists that I really appreciate, I’m also interested in people working in other fields like architecture, science, philosophy, music, etc. All kind of things can be inspiring!

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TP: Anything coming up that you’re particularly excited about?
Z:
I am leaving for Japan in a few days, to install an exhibition in Tokyo. But I also look forward to the summer, when things slow down. It allows me to focus on work in the studio and spend time outdoors.