Relief méta-mécanique sonore II
Material / technique: Black wooden panel with 17 variously shaped, white-painted cardboard elements, metal rods and wires, 2 bottles, 1 funnel, 1 saw, 2 cans, 5 220V electric motors
Size: 73 x 360 x 48 cm
Catalog: Bischofberger 0038
Creditline: Museum Tinguely, Basel
Tinguely was very aware of the noises made by machines. He soon incorporated striking mechanisms and other noise sources into his works in order to deliberately create certain tones and thus augment his reliefs with accompanying worlds of sound. The sequence of tones is never the same twice, giving rise to continually new “melodies“ and “rhythms“ – but the tones generated are characteristic enough to give each work an unmistakable tonal identity.
Tinguely’s two major early sound reliefs were both executed in 1955. He created the “Relief méta-mécanique sonore I” for the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles and the “Relief méta-mécanique sonore II” in October of the same year for his exhibition at the Samlaren Gallery in Stockholm.
In formal terms, “Relief méta-mécanique sonore I and II” are related to the “Eléments détachés” as well as to the “Moulins à prière”. But the “Reliefs sonores” also differ markedly from these other works in certain features: the artist has discreetly incorporated cans, funnels, glasses and bottles, adding real objects to the works’ abstract elements. This procedure can be traced to one of the decisive innovations of the art of the early 20th century: Picasso was the first to insert everyday objects into his cubist sculptures between 1912 and 1914. As early as his “Eléments détachés”, Tinguely had also broken through the level of relief to interweave the viewer’s space with that of the abstract composition. This effect is enhanced further in the “Reliefs sonores” through the introduction of real objects and sounds. Since the viewer can’t at first see the objects and doesn’t know exactly where the next tone will come from, his eye always lags behind the acoustic event, reversing the traditional hierarchy of eye and ear. Several years before the “invention“ of Nouveau Réalisme, Tinguely thus created a realistic art that unfolds only in the present moment, in the experience of the viewer, and thus departs substantially from the timelessness of abstract art.