fleur de peau -
soundinstallation for one body (2003)
Soundinstallation with 16 contact loudspeakers and 16 channels audiosystem
  A Fleur de Peau at Via Maubeuge by Lynn Pook  

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. 

Contact 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 inner ear.

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 decelerating movements.


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 rle 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.

A Fleur de Peau at Galery Bina Elle Montreal

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.

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