The project in brief:

With the Ballade du Fou, Zahra Poonawala provides a new opportunity to travel both inside and with a sound. The work is a continuation of previous works that already allowed sound to be heard not as an impenetrable surface, but as a volume to go through via movement and listening. These works, like Tutti, were also based on a dialogue between the movements of the spectator/listener and those of the sound objects. The result was an increased awareness of the plasticity of sound, of its living character.

In the Ballade du Fou, the sound configurations evolve according to the physical relationship between the spectator and the installation. As the spectator approaches, a ceramic loudspeaker comes alive and emits a song, that of a soprano, while following the spectator’s movement through its rotations. The composition of this ballad was entrusted to Gaëtan Gromer. By approaching or moving away, the spectator can make the music evolve: the soprano is ‘influenced’ by them, sometimes shy, sometimes inhabited, revealing a palette of different nuances and regional accents. The original classical lied is revealed under unexpected facets.


Design: Zahra Poonawala

Composition: Gaëtan Gromer

Soprano: Juliette de Massy

Studio recording: Benjamin Moreau

Poems: Feliz Molina

Poetry adaptation: Zahra Poonawala

Computing and detection: David Lemaréchal

Robotics and construction: Jean-Marc Delannoy

Computer music: Gaëtan Gromer

Ceramic framing: Solène Dumas and Artelineha

With the support of : DRAC Grand Est, Pro Helvetia, Swiss foundation for culture




For a fraction of a second, you feel as if you are in a souk in Marrakech, a seaside resort in California, a city under alert in Japan or an amusement park in France. Triggered by our movement, a stream of words and sounds travels to us, attracting attention, calling us to prayer, arousing desire or evoking danger.

The project in brief:

Public Address System is a sound installation, placed in the public space, that broadcasts a recorded sound that has been emitted through a speaker of the same type elsewhere in the world. The sequences are triggered randomly when a person passes in front of it. You can hear recorded sounds, among others, in Paris, Tokyo, Isfahan, Montreal, Moscow, Kathmandu, Pokhara (Nepal), Geneva, Strasbourg, Dublin, Buenos Aires, Angoulême (France), Minoto (Japan), San Diego, Prague, Vienna, Bangalore (India), Rome, Shanghai, Wattwiller (France), Manama (Bahrain) and sounds from imaginary cities, such as Yirminadingrad for example. This collection creates a real poetic and musical universe composed of quotations encountered along their journeys and plays with the sound poetry of the various places.

> The work was awarded the 3rd European Digital Art Prize Imagina Atlantica in Angouleme.


Artistic director : Zahra Poonawala

Production : Les Ensembles 2.2



TUTTI is an interactive installation by Zahra Poonawala, where movements generate musical modifications, appearances or disappearances of instrumental parts. The loudspeakers, mounted on motors, follow the movements of the visitors.

‘This piece tends to prolong a reflection started several years ago, which questions the sound and visual relationships between a part and a whole, between production and perception of sound. While previous works offered a static presentation, this one places the spectator in the position of explorer for the first time. Drawing on the precedent of ‘acousmoniums’ or loudspeaker orchestras, the work aims to materialise a more dynamic experience of listening based on movement.

The space occupied by the installation is given, but it can be perceived in different ways. It is first marked by a fixed marker, that of the wall of loudspeakers which forms the background, both visually and audibly. Its characters each have a different volume, register and character. In front of this background, soloists stand out, isolated loudspeakers that are endowed with mobility, since they react to the movements of the spectator, who is encouraged to move to make them react. The different sound planes redouble this spatial organisation. From a complex fundamental chord that forms a base, the reaction to the spectator’s movements determines changes in intensity, launching solos that stand out from the sound mass. To come closer is to listen, it is also to elicit a differentiated sound response.

The recorded music, born from the proposals of Zahra Poonawala, was written by Gaëtan Gromer for a chamber music ensemble. Influenced by works such as that of Giacinto Scelsi, it is heard as a complex chord in which the spectator, like a speleologist, will direct the lamp of their attention to such a desk, such a part of the orchestra, traveling inside the sound as through the space circumscribed by the installation. »

_Stéphane Valdenaire.


Sound installation by Zahra Poonawala

Composition: Gaëtan Gromer

Production: Le Fresnoy 2012

Flutes: Ayako Okubo

Clarinets: Adam Starkie

Violin: Marie Osswald

Viola: Antoine Spindler

Cello: Anne-Catherine Dupraz

Double bass: Elodie Peaudepièce

Computer music: Benoît Jester, Gaëtan Gromer

Robotic computing: Antoine Rousseau

Computer detection: David Lemarchal

Construction: Jean-Marc Delannoy

In partnership with Métalu

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