Wooden poles strike the ground at Zimoun installation

Wooden poles randomly strike the ground at Zimoun's installation in New York

Vertical wooden laths cyclically pummel the floor of a cavernous New York factory building in this installation by Swiss artist Zimoun (+ movie).

Studio Zimoun installation at Knockdown Center NYC

Zimoun hung 250 wooden poles from thin ropes attached to the 12-metre-high ceiling beams of the Knockdown Center NYC – a 1903 factory building in Queens that has been restored as an art and music venue.

Each length of rope is connected to an electric motor, which raises the lath 25 centimetres off the ground and drops it so it hits the ground.

Studio Zimoun installation at Knockdown Center NYC

This process is repeated at random intervals, creating a choreography of uneven jostling and a cacophony of thuds.

Studio Zimoun installation at Knockdown Center NYC

"Through this system, all laths are in motion and generate complex visual and acoustic patterns, rhythms and structures," said Zimoun.

The ropes are all slightly longer than necessary to allow the ends of each pole to touch the floor. This means that they rest tilted, changing position each time they land.

Studio Zimoun installation at Knockdown Center NYC

The arrangement of the 930-square-metre space allows visitors to walk around the thudding sticks where the ceiling height is lower.

Members of the public are also permitted to walk between the laths as they perform the random dance.

Studio Zimoun installation at Knockdown Center NYC

"Doing so, they are surrounded by the indeterminate orchestra of sounds caused by 250 laths falling to the floor," Zimoun said. "Rhythms develop and interlock depending on the individual position of the visitor, and diverse patterns and polimetric rhythms evolve."

Studio Zimoun installation at Knockdown Center NYC

Zimoun also used motors to add bumping and spinning motions to three installations made up of cardboard boxes – another part of his exploration into what he describes as "sound architecture".

"It is about creating a situation and focusing on the vibrations happening at the current moment," Zimoun explained. "It's about creating a simple system, which then gains dynamism, becoming richer in its behaviour."

Studio Zimoun installation at Knockdown Center NYC

The Knockdown Center installation will remain in place until 8 March at 52-19 Flushing Ave, Maspeth, New York.