When you first see the interior of the Usine de Chandoline, with its gigantic dimensions, length and height, its stone and concrete materials, and the relics of machines and mechanisms belonging to a bygone era, you're easily struck by a sense of disproportion. The architecture of a power plant is not made on a human scale, and the body is confronted with relationships that surpass it, to the point of tending towards an impression of dematerialization. And when we perceive the acoustic attributes of the site for the first time, another element emerges: the slightest clap of the hands, the slightest rise in the voice is amplified by the play of reflections and begins to fill the entire sound space, to the point of being able to render a series of sounds totally deafening.
It is at the heart of this paradoxical relationship, between the crushing of the human body and the feeling of sonic power, that Usine Electrique composes with acoustic space.
12 instrumentalists are scattered throughout the main hall and its corridors. Distant from one another, their actions are individual, and their possible interactions take place via remote visual and sound signals. It is the sum total of their interventions that defines a complete landscape, revealing to the listener the dimensions and nooks and crannies of the architecture. Usine Electrique is a tribute to the acoustic source of sound, to the dynamic extremes that range from a barely perceptible murmur to the deflagrations of metallic instruments.
As night falls, the relationship to space generated by visual perception is transformed, with sound gaining in importance over visual information conveyed by daylight. The musicians use artificial light to communicate, and must send each other light signals from a distance to complete the piece.
Conception, composition, musical direction
Assistant musical director
Students from classes at the Conservatoire Cantonal du Valais, Sion
Aliénor Crettenand, Stella Mönckeberg, Anna Rossier
Quentin Burnier, Colin Fellay, Martin Lièvre, Luca Mayor, Louis Roten, Baptiste Rudaz
Oct. 13, 2023: 2nd project, Fundacio Proha, Buenos Aires
2024 (date to be confirmed): 3rd project, Casa degli Artisti, Milan
Biennale Son, Sion
Colòn Contemporaneo, Buenos Aires
Association Zona K, Milan
With the support of the Nicati Deluze Foundation
Photos: Alexandre Babel/Florian Bach, Asphalte, 2020, solo drums and lighting © Pablo Fernandez