Where does any miracle start?

Where Does Any Miracle Start?, Paris, 7.11.2022 – 30.04.2023

curator: Marta Ponsa

video documentation

Where Does Any Miracle Start, currently on display at Jeu de Paume in Paris, is an acoustic, architectural and performative work consisting of several components. Manifesting Krakowiak-Bałka’s interest in architecture’s acoustics at its intersection with living organisms, it turns the building into a musical instrument to establish an insightful connection with its surroundings.

This project proposes to make visible the presence of probably most forgotten inhabitants of the Jardin de Tuileries, the insects. The artist has recorded the sounds and vibrations with which they communicate, often at frequencies inaudible to human ears, and make them dialogue with voices of soprano singers who imitate them. Conceived as a tribute to the resilience of these small animals, this sound installation crosses the walls of the historic building to form a community with the environment that surrounds it.

At the preparatory stage, sounds of insects in the park around Jeu de Paume were recorded with seismic sensors, revealing frequencies inaudible to humans and serving to create a transcript. Insects thus became the protagonists, whose hidden life was transferred inside and amplified for everyone to hear.

The artist was inspired by the analogy between the movement of a ball, bouncing off the walls of a palm court, and the movement of sound reflecting off any surface. The multi-sound acoustic sculpture was looped in the hall of Jeu de Paume, through a custom-made mobile loudspeaker, emitting a high-frequency sound beam and five transducer loudspeakers that play the glass walls.

The sounds of insects resonate through the whole sound installation. It allows for designing the movement of sound bouncing off walls and windows, bringing to mind the trajectory of an insect, but also of the ball in the game of jeu de paume. This creates a link between natural and cultural contexts of sound and movement. Of crucial importance here are the glass windows – an interface between the cultural environment of the interior and the natural surroundings. They become a screen that transforms the building into a giant amplifier and a listening system.

This interface is further explored in live concerts, in which opera singers perform the score based on transcribed insects’ sounds. Standing outside the building, they sing through the glass panes to the audience inside, thus embodying the resonance and interplay between the exterior and interior – nature and culture.

The work has an online presence, based on acoustic models and simulations of how the building sounded at various points in the past, reaching back to the 16th century. This research-based feature sheds light on the acoustic history of the pavilion, while also serving as an environment for a live online concert with invited singers.

The project is co-organised by Adam Mickiewicz Institute.