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Zimoun: Maximum Effort for Minimal(ist) Impact

“Drone” is not the correct term for the work of Zimoun, the Bern, Switzerland-based artist and musician. But if his rough noises don’t count as drones, what are they?


Zimoun’s primary instruments are entirely of his own making, each a large-scale installation of small mechanical devices — tables lined with whipping little bits of tubing, small sets of fetishistically situated mini-motors. They are architecturally precise and their beauty is forged by that precision. They are achievements in minimalism that share an aesthetic realm with the stark paintings of Robert Ryman, the digital chiaroscuro of Carsten Nicolai, the imposing structures of the architectural firm Morphosis. Exertion in the cause of simplicity: maximum effort for minimal(ist) impact.

The meticulous engineering of Zimoun’s work is a set-up — not an end unto itself, but a staged step toward its end result, an orderly step enacted so as to let chaos flourish. His chaos takes place in close settings, in carefully defined spaces, in systems as thoroughly considered as a laboratory experiment. And the sound emited by them is not an after effect, or an afterthought. It’s a core principal of his practice.

Shown here are three such motion sculptures, captured in short-form video. They’re beautiful to watch, and to listen to.

The recent “97 polysiloxane hoses 3.0mm, compressed air” (2010), shown up top, looks like a gaseous emission from afar, and sounds like steady, insistent rain (

Softly creaking plastic being ruffled is what “30”²000 plastic bags, 16 ventilators” (2010) sounds like, but the simutaneous action across so much surface area ultimately lends it a feel along the lines of some kind of coarse cloud (


And as for “5 prepared dc-motors on different materials” (2009), the rattling is the result of the motors purposefully being not fully secured, allowing for jittery, uneven motion (

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Zimoun’s work, especially the recent “97 polysiloxane hoses 3.0mm,” must strike fear in the hearts of those who stay up late contemplating the potential ill side effects of nanotechnology. To watch those myriad plastic ribbons flail is to see no discernible pattern; it is to witness something approaching true randomness — which to say something if not “lifelike,” let along sentient, then surely at least in some way “natural.” The effect is far more realistic than any CGI ocean waves or smoke fumes that I have ever seen in a movie. And if a bunch of tubes from the local hardware store can do this, then what would infinitesimally small particles be capable of?

The word for this wildly variegated effect is “texture.” That is what Zimoun achieves in his work, especially in his work with sound. You could label them “drones,” given their emphasis on monotony and uniformity, but they’re really something else entirely, a sound art that aspires to the state of static.

More on Zimoun at More video at his channel.

Here’s a previous Zimoun-focused entry, with still images: And here’s an interview with Buddha Machine creators FM3, from back in 2005, in which they talk about Zimoun, with whom they collaborated on the album Live 19.06.2004 (Leerraum):

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tags: , , , / Comment: 1 ]

One Comment

  1. Kevin Seward
    [ Posted April 28, 2010, at 6:57 am ]

    Thanks for posting.

    Along with the analogy of free range nanobots, the overall panel of flailing 3mm hose segments when seen in the long shot almost seems like a water puddle splashing in heavy rainfall. The sound may be re-enforcing that impression.

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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