Granular synthesis, as described by Iannis Xenakis, imagined sound as constructed from elementary elements. In the work of Zimoun, elementary sonic grains are physical. An undulating wall of cardboard rubs surfaces against one another to form a chorus of sound. Cotton balls roll against boxes in throaty clouds of sound. Wires wriggle like some sort of insect antennae. Below, the newest video of his work, in which cardboard petals form an animated wall of rustling noise.
The results, powered by simple DC motors in kinetic musical action, recall some kind of natural, organic colony. Assembled in structures sculptural and architectural, this is real-world synthesis, constructed mechanically in motion.
The work is elegant, graceful, and witty, not cold and aggressive as are so many sound works. The sounds can be delicate – even assemblages of electric fans.
Zimoun is a Swiss artist whose work has been presented around the US and Europe. He also records music, some of it in surround.
I hope to see these works in person; if they’re this moving in Internet videos, I can barely imagine seeing them up close. I’ll let the videos speak for themselves.