Zimoun explores new sonic dimensions with Sennheiser during Art Basel
Debut work from Sennheiser’s Future Audio Artist Program presents immersive installation that gives shape to sound
It’s a sense of total immersion. After stepping inside what appears to be an old shipping container, you find yourself in a different sphere. The walls are alive with hundreds of delicate structures that ripple and flow, creating an endless shifting wave of rustlings, cracks and minuscule clicks. The many sounds and movements seem unpredictable, yet together appear to form waves. The air is alive with sound and the rich parchment smell arising from what you see are tiny machines that propel countless paper bags in a bizarrely organic dance. This is the new sound sculpture by Swiss artist Zimoun, and the debut work created for Sennheiser’s Future Audio Artist Program.
The new work is presented for the first time at Ostquai during the week of Art Basel. A cornerstone of Sennheiser’s role as Official Audio Partner to the premier international Modern and contemporary art fair, the Future Audio Artist Program is the audio specialist´s new initiative to support some of the world’s most exciting artists working with sound, presenting their interpretation of Sennheiser’s vision to Shape the Future of Audio.
The program was announced in March at Art Basel in Hong Kong, when Zimoun was invited by a jury that includes art-world luminaries Prof. Dr. h. c. Walter Smerling and Daniela Hinrichs, as well as Daniel Sennheiser, co-CEO of Sennheiser, to create and showcase a new work for the Basel show. As part of Sennheiser’s ongoing commitment to Art Basel, each show will be a platform to showcase the work of a sound artist and to choose the artist to be celebrated at the successive show.
Explorations in sound with Zimoun
Zimoun is an artist of growing international repute who is known for creating works featuring mechanical systems through which simple materials from everyday life or industry are brought into motion, creating sounds. The works explore the dynamic and acoustic properties of the materials as well as the complexity of movement and sound that is generated by simple systems.
“In my work I deal with both sound and composition. I explore the creation of sound by materials and the nature and transformation of physical spaces,” explained Zimoun. “In this work I have brought all these elements together: We hear what we see, and the audible is visible, or the three-dimensionality of the sound manifests itself in the spatial arrangement of sound-generating systems. To me, the sound has no greater importance than the visual or vice versa. All components have an equal importance and are mutually dependent – even including the odor of the materials used. The aim is a total immersion of the senses in a work that is continually creating itself anew in each moment. I’m very excited to be bringing this work to Art Basel.”
Zimoun’s installation consists of hundreds of paper bags that are placed on the walls, floor and ceiling of a shipping container. Each bag contains an engine, which moves it independently to form motion and sound. The viewer is completely surrounded by a large number of small sound generation systems, allowing the immersion in a three-dimensional sound composition. Each audible sound is generated in real time in the room itself and, due to the numerous independently working sound generators, the overall effect is a highly complex sound that never repeats itself.
“As an artist, Zimoun has a unique vision and we were very excited to see how he would bring this to his interpretation of the ‘Future of Audio’ theme,” said Prof. Dr. h. c. Walter Smerling. ”His works are an exploration of how motion, materials and their sensory effects work to transform spaces and this new installation is a brilliant meditation on the creation and emotional impact of sound.”
Commenting on the Future Audio Artist Program Daniela Hinrichs said: “This program is a great initiative giving aspiring artists the possibility to bring their ideas to live. This has resulted in a truly thrilling work from Zimoun that is more than worthy to be featured on the global stage that is Art Basel.”
Capturing a unique artwork with Sennheiser
While the project creates sounds “organically” through the motions of the raw materials used, Zimoun has drawn on Sennheiser’s direct support by using the audio specialist’s microphones to help document the work. “The range and performance of Sennheiser’s microphones are intrinsically vital to capturing the audio dimension of this type of work,” said Zimoun. “They not only allow recordings of the spatial situation, but also of even the smallest precise details. Of course, experiencing my work - which includes sound, space, lights, materials and mechanical systems - in real-time inside the physical room is not the same as listening to a recording of it, but the recording does make it possible to convey many elements of it.”
While Zimoun’s artwork creates sound in physical space, this same accomplishment has been achieved by Sennheiser’s new immersive 3D audio technology AMBEO. As Daniel Sennheiser explains: “Zimoun’s creative vision has created a powerful sound installation that is an analog to our pursuit of the perfect sound through technology. You can try to examine the mechanics and components to understand how the emotions are created, but at its pinnacle, great art and great audio becomes something that transcends its elements – it reshapes our very perceptions and experience. With AMBEO, we have created a new way of recording and reproducing sound in three dimensions that lets you feel completely immersed. Zimoun’s unique interpretation of sound and space achieves in art what we are crafting through technology. Visitors to Art Basel will be able to enjoy both of these unique experiences.”
To experience the new sound sculpture by Zimoun, visit the specially converted shipping container located at Ostquai, Hafenstraße 25 in Basel.