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User Preferences: A Tech Q&A With Zimoun

Each week we chat about the tools of the trade with one outstanding creative to find out exactly how they do what they do.

200 prepared DC motors, 2000 cardboard elements 70×70cm. Zimoun in collaboration with Architect Hannes Zweifel 2011

Each week we chat about the tools of the trade with one outstanding creative to find out exactly how they do what they do. The questions are always the same, the answers, not so much. This week: Zimoun.

The Creators Project: Who are you and what do you do?
Zimoun: I’m Zimoun, I do sound sculptures and installations based on mechanics and physical generation of sound and movement.


What hardware do you use?
Motors, wires, laboratory power supplies, compressors, ventilators, filler wire, cotton balls, cardboard, LED, styrofoam, plastic, wood, metals, chains, vibration motors, magnets, swarf, springs, polysiloxane hoses, woodworms…

What software do you use?
With the pieces I’ve done over the last few years there’s no software involved anymore. I use micro-controllers rarely, and years ago some projects were realized based on Max/MSP.

Zimoun: Compilation Video V2.8—Sound Sculptures & Installations

If money were no object, how would you change your current setup?
Hahaha… (first reaction). Hmm… (second reaction). Yes! (third reaction). I’d build a very nice and simple 3-floor barrack (studio+apartment) on the top of a building in East Village, Manhattan.

What fantasy piece of technology would you like to see invented?
Of course, a little DC motor with endless life expectancy! Also, a perpetual motion machine would be very useful and, for fun, a nice time travel tool or a reality constructor. Maybe an imagination materialization machine, a dream recorder, a hurricane riding chair, a sense expanding system, a de-materialization machine, a perception modulator… and well, probably, there’ll be a need for some save-the-world apparatus.

Is there any piece of technology that inspired you to take the path you did?
Hmm… I don’t think so. It’s the physical world in general, as well as perception, which inspires me the most.

121 prepared DC motors, cardboard elements 8×8cm. Zimoun 2011

What’s your favorite relic piece of technology from your childhood?
I remember the furnace room at my grandparents’ place—it was an old oil heater, a big machine which, for me, had its own personality somehow (haha). I used to pass by this object very often and I found going next to this huge machine was very exciting, as it was giving off various sounds and smells. When the heater was working it made an intense drone—deep, dark and very physical. Then, after that phase, it turned off and the hot machine slowly cooled down. In doing so it produced many tiny clicking sounds (since the materials were changing temperature) which reflected off all the walls in this small room—it was very beautiful and a fantastic contrast to the strong drone produced during the heating process.