Losing the Birds by Simon Ripoll-Hurier

6 October 2016

In anticipation of the upcoming exhibition, Max Feed: A collective exhibition on the work and legacy of Max Neuhaus (8 October – 30 December 2016) at Frac Franche-Comté, NERO is pleased to present the video Losing the Birds (2015). Made by one of the participating artists, Simon Ripoll-Hurier, the video is contextualised here in a brief note by the exhibition’s curator, Daniele Balit. Balit has orchestrated an exhibition that addresses notions of legacy, feedback and influence, amongst others.  

An exploration of the work of Max Neuhaus involves considering a phenomenology of listening, partly in terms of sensory elements, but especially in terms of a capacity to put in motion, to direct attention. In this sense, among the legacies left by Neuhaus is that of laying the foundations for a “culture of sound studies,” understood as the development of  interdisciplinary knowledge and the individual’s ability to reflect, through listening, on their relationship to their surrounding context. Music and sound art are “ecological” because of their relationship to the environment in which they are found and, to the real.

Works such as Losing the Birds (2015) by Simon Ripoll-Hurier testify to the variety of modes of listening and hence, lead us to reflect on the act of listening itself. Each individual must find the right place in a space where the boundaries between languages are reduced and here, the spheres of nature and culture may intertwine.

Ripoll-Hurier explores diverse fields, within aesthetics and beyond: popular music and its history, radio and telecommunications, transmission effects, and even the practices related to listening, particulary those of amateur communities. He meets and cooperates with the latter in order to realise some of his works.

In the video, Losing the Birds (2015), we witness a session of “bird watching,” a practice which consists in locating the birds in their natural environment, thanks to the “phishing” technique: attracting the birds by imitating the song of the enemy species in order to provoke a reaction. The objective is to observe the largest number of the species possible. It is therefore active listening, noisy listening, that the viewer is invited to listen to in a real “mise en abyme.” Hence Ripoll-Hurier’s video encourages us to reflect on the ambiguities of listening, on behavior and communication in nature, of human beings and the interaction between these two worlds.

Even if they do not reject technology, the two “birdwatchers” seem above all to rely on their voice – a voice which, according to Max Neuhaus, is the most sophisticated sound production device available to human beings. As night falls, binoculars are no longer needed and as one of the protagonists in the video points out, seeing is no longer important: you have to listen.

For more information on the exhibition Max Feed, please visit the Frac Franche-Comté website.