Swiss artist Zimoun builds mechanical installations that exploit sound as well as image. His work transmutes the elements into minimal noise for an outstanding effect, mixing the crafts of sculptor and musician alike.
Have you ever felt lost in the sound of hundreds of hands clapping, rain falling on the roof, distant traffic or simple static? With a first hearing, that’s what Zimoun
’s work reminds us of. There’s some sort of trance-inducing magic behind all these sounds, something that soothes the mind and opens it to new horizons. The effect is created by the juxtaposition of small sounds in great numbers. Minuscule motors, filler wires, hoses or bags combine their individual noise to create a soft but overwhelming presence. The total experience is far bigger than the mere sum of its parts.
But the sonic aspect is just one half of the oeuvre; visually, they can be as imposing as sonically. “I’m trying to bring visual, sonic, spatial and functional elements together to one thing in my installation work,” describes Zimoun. “Nothing of it is more important. What you hear is what you see, and both are based on its function and activity. The relationship between the materials, movements, sounds and space becomes obvious.”
His kinetic sculptures function as a condensation of sound and space. But even if the organization of its elements is precise, the execution often plays on its inherit randomness. Of course, Zimoun is not unaware of this play. “I'm interested in a selective mix between somehow ‘living’ structures that are continuously generated or evolving by chance and chain reactions, and a specifically delimited and contained space in which these events are allowed to happen. Systems to create micro structures in sound and motion. It's a simplicity, directness and immediacy I'm looking for.”Living
might be the right word to describe them. The sculptures function as a microcosm, bound by the cadence of their initial organization but growing and evolving beyond the control of their creator. Maybe the best example in this regard is a piece of his that consists on a piece of wood and 25 woodworms. It is a working ecosystem that, in the context of his oeuvre, breaks the limits between organic and inorganic life-forms. For, what’s the world if not mixtures of elements in perpetual movement, collision and interaction? “From my side there are similar interests even if no artificial system is involved in this piece,” he comments. “My work is not about the motors in general at the end. I‘m interested in somehow organic soundscapes, ‘living’ microstructures, in simple systems that generate complex behaviours in sound and/or motion. So the source doesn't need to be artificial - Nice musicians and hard workers these woodworms by the way!”
We won’t go as far as to say that Zimoun’s work is comparable to the Rabi of Prague
that created the Golem. There is something almost scientific in his approach to create these pseudo-primordial broths
. “The order is often the technical situation, the system, the set up. And then the chaos is coming out of its activity. I'm interested in very simple artificial systems which allow to generate and study complex behaviours in sound and motion. To examine simplicity and complexity at the same time might look dichotomy - but the things seem often to be quite close. It’s like exploring infinity: you can either do this by making your area of focus larger and larger, or by getting smaller and smaller and smaller. On both sides there’s no end. Exploring complexity based on simple systems somehow helps me to get at least a little bit closer to it. And I’m getting able to play and to create with it that way.”
But then again, what is magic but a science we can’t fully grasp? Zimoun creates more than moving structures; he develops a space where the oeuvre, once it’s set in motion, can create itself. Text by Oscar Gomez Poviña @ VNFOLD