À Fleur de Peau is
an audio installation in which each member of the audience experiences
both tactile and auditory sensations throughout their entire body.
The loudspeakers are
positioned symmetrically throughout the body – on
the back of each foot, in the spaces behind each knee, in the lumbar
region, on the back of each hand, at the elbows, on the shoulder
blades, at the neck, on the temples and at the forehead.
loudspeakers are used because, in contrast to regular loudspeakers,
they are barely audible and vibrate clearly. They first become audible
when affixed to a resonating body which, in this case, is the body of
the recipient. The sounds are thereby transmitted via the bones to the
This 16-channel composition
gives the impression that the sounds, and
even the vibrations which they produce, are wandering around the body.
The vibrations vary with the frequency of the sounds and the effects
they produce can be either rhythmic or planar.
The sounds are produced
on a modular system through manipulation, filtering and the
overlayering of sinewaves, rectangular waves or sawtooth waves: they
possess an eccentric character like sounds in early computer games. I
chose these sounds not only for their acoustic properties, but more for
the variations in their vibrational quality, so that the body is
suffused with various tactile stimulations.
These sounds are then worked into a ten-minute composition, based on
spatio-rythmic, rather than melodic, criteria. Physically, because of
the sixteen channels scattered over the surface of the body, the
possibility exists to define through sound the binaries of above/below,
left/right, center/extremeties, in front/behind and more/less and,
thus, to create rising, falling, spiralling, accelerating and
À Fleur de
Peau brings together many interests, which have previously
been present in my work. From the ceiling of an area separated off by
lengths of material, various sizes of white fabric hang from various
lengths of white cable. Inside the white fabric are hidden small
speakers. The entire piece possesses a feeling reminiscent of a
laboratory and resembles an ECG device ; moreover it is meant
more to be heard and felt than simply to be observed. My rôle is that
of a nurse. After the guest has taken off his/her shoes, I fix the
loudspeakers to their body using velcro binding. The guest inserts
earplugs, in order not to be able to hear the surrounding sounds. Then
a ten-minute composition is played, during which s/he feels vibrations
on on his/her body and hears sounds from within.
In daily life there is the tendency to observe the space beyond the
body, to note at worst the sites of pain and comfort. Through this
audiotactile experience, one becomes suddenly aware of the
dimensionality of the body. After a short time, the subtle, tactile
stimulation forces the recipient to concentrate so forcefully that s/he
shuts her/his eyes and becomes aware of the inner self.
In my work, I want to take
the audience out of regular sensory perception and create from them a
sound resonator. This work incorporates no interactive
element ; I would rather it be seen as
« interpassive », that the recipient not be
stimulated by the action, rather that s/he be lulled into a peaceful
state of awareness. The entire structure leaves him/her in a boundaried
openness, in which free movement is possible. Through the varying
muscular tensions and the interrelationships between the loudspeakers,
the recipient can change the perception of the impulses and track the
path of sounds as they move.
This sound object has a relexing influence on its users. I have,
however, inserted a few suprises in the composition, which are not
generally considered comfortable and which consequently generate other
feelings in the recipient.