The kinetic-minimalist sound artist Zimoun’s video 25 Woodworms, Wood, Microphone, Sound System (2009) takes the sounds made by live woodworms at work as a starting point for the creation of an atonal, minimalist soundscape. A microphone mounted above a piece of bark amplifies the gnawing noises of the 25 woodworms enclosed in it, making these audible to the human ear.
Here too, as in all of the Bernese artist’s works, the remarkably simple experimental set-up results in a complex and unrepeatable tapestry of sound. The acoustic proximity to the soundscapes of his other and later works, such as his large-scale installation of wooden sticks hitting the floor by means of rotating DC motors in 600 prepared DC-Motors, 58 kg Wood (2017) is striking; with the erratic scuttling activity of the insect community illustrating the bustling and complex soundscapes of his works on another level.
Like the sounds of the woodworms, the individual sounds in Zimoun’s works tend to be delicate and fast, repetitive but a-rhythmic. When 25 tone generators or more are drawn together, they acquire something diffuse, which can infiltrate an entire room and even resonate beyond it. Supposedly, but only supposedly, the sound follows its own swarm logic; however, we know from biologists that it is entirely composed by coincidence. Only animals such as termites or ants follow a collective logic, woodworms do not exhibit this swarm behaviour. Like the artist’s wooden sticks and cotton balls, each woodworm emits a unique sound sequence that arises purely from the moment.
(Text: Bettina Back)
Growing up in Moosaffoltern near Bern, Zimoun learnt to play various musical instruments early on and wrote his first simple compositions at the age of ten. Following teacher training in Bern (1996–2000), he presented his first musical and visual works at the Tonus Labor (later Orbital Garden) of the Bernese musician and composer Don Li. Since 2004, he has been awarded prizes and scholarships, including the Aeschlimann Corti scholarship, the Kiefer Halblitzel Prize (2006), the Canton of Bern’s scholarship to New York (2007) and the Honorary Mention Ars Electronica in Linz (2010). During his three-month artist-in-residence fellowship in China in 2004, Zimoun gave 15 live performances in various Chinese cities. Zimoun has held acoustic performances at festivals and concert halls, including the Elektra Festival Montreal, the Royal Academy of Music Denmark, the Festival Transmediale in Berlin and the Sonic Acts Festival in Amsterdam. Institutional solo exhibitions include Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein (2010), Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida (2011), Museum MIS São Paulo (2012), Borusan Contemporary Istanbul (2012), Nam June Paik Museum Seoul (2012), Harnett Museum of Art Richmond (2013), Rennes, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Musée Les Champs Libres (simultaneously in 2013), Musée des beaux-arts in Le Locle (2016/17), Le Centquatre in Paris (2017), Museum of Contemporary Art Busan (2018). He has also participated in numerous institutional group exhibitions worldwide, such as in Asia, Canada and South America: 2012 and 2016 in Taipei, 2013 in Seoul, 2014 and 2016 in Montreal, 2016 Santiago de Chile as well as in Switzerland at the Kunstmuseum Thun.