Au clair de la lune

sound-video installation – 6 channel sound composition (6:33 min loop) …

sound-video installation – 6 channel sound composition (6:33 min loop) – 3 video loops (different lengths)

On march 27th 2008, the New York Times published an article about the first sound recording ever. The article by Jody Rosen was titled: “Researchers Play Tune Recorded Before Edison”. I discovered this text at in early April 2008.

In march 2008 American scientists discovered and restored a phonautograph recording paper roll and found the first line of the French folk song “Au clair de la lune”. It is suspected that this is the oldest recording of music and human voice from the year 1860. The recording was made by the Frenchman Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, who is also known as the inventor of the phonautograph – a device that was originally built for the visualization of sound.

The installation deals not only with the first sound recordings, but also with the first recorded moving images. What I wanted was to return to the beginning of recording and see what has happened since. Thinking about the behaviour of stored memories, the growing media influence, the archiving of ideas and thoughts are only some aspects that inspired me to do this installation. Also the pure pleasure of working with archive material and historic artefacts in general, lead me to create “Au clair de la lune”.
The 6 channel sound composition, was designed by me exclusively from the sounds of the more than 1000 years old Kalimba. The Kalimba is an African instrument, mainly played in smaller ensembles during various tribal ceremonies. The structure of the composition is indirectly influenced by the 10 seconds recording from 1860.

video monitor 1 (left): First combined film and sound recording from 1894, or 1895 by William Dickson, an engineer for Thomas Edison (Dickson plays the violin itself, the dancers were probably assistants).

video monitor 2 (middle): Street musician from New York, filmed by Stephane Leonard in may 2008.

video monitor 3 (right): Probably the first film including an instrumentalist ever, filmed in 1888 by Louis Le Prince, who 2 years later mysteriously disappeared forever. Le Prince is also considered to be the first one who recorded moving pictures (“Roundhay Garden Scene” is also from the year 1888).