Jaeger-LeCoultre Teams With Artist Zimoun For Sound Art

It is a relationship on multiple levels. Swiss watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre has teamed with renowned Swiss artist Zimoun, commissioning him to create  a special installation of sound art  that reflects Jaeger-LeCoultre’s centuries-old history in sound making within the realm of watchmaking. The exhibition, which opens this week in China, will make a global journey.  

Earlier this year, just before the global pandemic became a reality, Jaeger-LeCoultre announced that in 2020 it would be celebrating its history with minute repeaters, chiming watches and alarms – declaring it the year of  The Sound Maker™.  The intention was to celebrate the brand’s experience in sound, unveil new watches that highlight the art of sound (which it did) and announce the new sound sculpture installation by Zimoun. 

Zimoun, who uses a nickname given to him by a friend during his teen years rather than his real name, is known for creating sound sculptures that are large architectural works of art.  His work deals with the creation of mechanical rhythm using industrial raw materials. His works have been showcased in museums around the world, including  Nam June Paik Art Museum Seoul, Art Museum Reina Sofia Madrid, Ringling Museum of Art Florida, Mumbai City Museum, National Art Museum Beijing; and dozens more.  Likewise, of course, Jaeger-LeCoultre works with industrial materials such as steel and brass and builds architecturally inspired timepieces that chime the time or offer unprecedented sound in the form of school-bell alarms. The match seems perfect.  

It took Zimoun approximately seven months to create the installation once he developed the idea after being commissioned by Jaeger-LeCoultre. The Sound Maker installation is entitled “1944 prepared dc-motors, mdf panels 72 x 72cm, metal disks  Ø 8cm, 2020” consists of small dc-motors, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) panels, fine wires and almost 2,000 thin metal disks.  The 2,000 disks are components obtained from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s workshops. Essentially, the watch components are connected to the dc-motors by fine wires. As the disks rotate against the MDF panels they create a sound similar to a coin falling to the ground. Not only is the sound important, but also, the movement of the disks creates a shimmering, always changing surface. 

“I’m interested in sound as an architectonic element to create space, but also in sound which somehow inhabits a room and interacts with it,” says Zimoun. “I work with three-dimensional sound structures, with spatial experiences and the exploration of sound, material and space – and perception.  Since all the wires holding the metal discs are bent by hand, each is slightly different, causing the metal discs to rotate at different angles or speeds. This creates a complex individuality that affects both the visual and acoustic properties of the work. The

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