‘Listening to People Watching’, 2010, sound 11.52 min

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The first idea of making this piece came to us when reading a text written by esteemed author and musician David Toop, who has recently written “Notes Towards a History of Listening” in a special issue of Art Press magazine. In this text, Toop examines how painters such as Piero Della Francesca and Johannes Vermeer included the idea of sound and the act of listening in their works. However, our piece is not a transcription of Toop’s ideas. That was just a trigger.

This sound piece is made of recordings taken from different French museums. We tried to capture how people were behaving during their visit, how they were talking about the paintings, sculptures, videos or installations they were actually watching. The piece also includes recordings from artists' works, taken during our own visits. You will realize that, as we did during and after the recordings, the atmosphere of museums is far from being silent. A museum is full of people talking and commenting on the works on display, people teaching to their students or children, people whispering and walking, bored teenagers and excited kids, sounds of tapping heels and slipping trainers. Museums are full of echoes and reverberating sounds that you don’t usually notice when your eyes and mind are focused on specific artworks. At times we electronically treated these echoes and reverberating sounds, to give them a more musical texture and tonality.

The whole piece can be listened to as a journey through these various art spaces. You will also hear that we mixed different languages, English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. We could also say that this piece is a sound photography of museums in the age of global tourism.

Recorded in May 2010 at the Louvres, Paris Museum of Modern Art, Centre Georges Pompidou Museum of Modern Art and Vasarely Foundation in Aix-en-Provence.