Swiss artist Zimoun’s sound installation in Dottikon, Switzerland

Swiss artist Zimoun’s sound installation in Dottikon, Switzerland

The art installation is a fine way of exploring new applications and technologies, dovetailing performance with design. Over the past few decades, the Swiss artist Zimoun has built a number of large-scale installations, often in close collaboration with architects and engineers. Best known for works that repurpose prosaic materials like cardboard and cotton in orderly patterns, the artist sets his constructions in motion with specially designed compact DC motors, the actions of which create esoteric noises.

Zimoun’s latest project in Dottikon, Switzerland, was developed with the architect Hannes Zweifel, a longtime collaborator. Inside a vast 1950s storage tank once used to house the industrial solvent toluene, they rigged up a system of 329 tiny motors with wires connected to 329 cotton balls. The motors cause the balls to jiggle, twitch and bounce off the surface of the tank. The result is a hypnotic loop of noise reverberating around the white space.

The 13m tank stands on the edge of a chemical plant in town, its industrial exterior giving no hint to the activity - and cacophany - within. There are no official opening hours, though spectators are welcome during working hours.

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