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Storage Tank on the Outside, Massive Sound Installation on the Inside

Traditionally, storage tanks are used for holding a variety of substances like water, lava, oil, fuel, and many others. Storage tanks also have other applications and are further used by common industries in chemical processing, cosmetics processing, etc. But just recently, a 36-year-old artist from Switzerland found another great use out of a 42-foot-tall chemical storage tank.

Born in 1977, Zimoun is a Swiss and self-taught artist who currently lives and works in the beautiful city of Bern, Switzerland. He is well-known for his artworks that are his sound sculptures, sound architectures and installation art. These artworks make use of different raw and industrial materials combined with mechanical elements to create mechanical rhythm. [1] He has created many of these artworks but to date, he makes his first ever permanent piece based in Dottikon, Switzerland.


The aforementioned chemical storage tank standing 42 feet high used to be the home of large quantities of clear liquid toluene. Now what Zimoun did was to transform this ordinary piece of storage tank into a massive piece of soundscape. Right now, the exterior of this tank looks pretty much the same. Anyone could by it and think, “This doesn’t look like art to me.” And to be honest, when you see the tank’s interior, you would only see a cylindrical space with balls suspended and arranged symmetrically throughout the tank’s wall space. But when you close your eyes and let your keenest sense of hearing kick in, you will see – or rather, hear – what the big deal is.



His latest soundscape, made possible by his collaboration with Hannes Zweifel, is appropriately called “329 prepared dc-motors, cotton balls, toluene tank”. If you want to know more about this project of his you don’t have to look – or read – further, because the piece is exactly what its title says it is. Hundreds of compact cotton balls are each tethered to DC motors and are arranged neatly on a symmetric pattern in the inside walls.

What would strike you the most about this piece of his is that the lack of visual interruptions (ie, cables) would boost the feeling of autonomy of these elements. When the motors whir to life and the show finally starts, it seems like you are enveloped in a space surrounded by a droning and uncanny rhythm. The tank-turned-into-masterpiece just melts into a sea of gentle sound, like the sound of rain on the roof of a tent.



Various critics have voiced out their opinions about the piece. Among these opinions include both “terrifying” and “meditative”. Zimoun, however, says that it’s all really just about treating “sound as an architectonic element:”

“In sound to create space, but also in sound which somehow is inhabiting a room and interacting with it. In three-dimensional sound structures as well as in a spatial experience and exploration of sound. Sound to create somehow static sound architectures that can be entered and explored acoustically. Similar like walking around in a building.” [2]



This is definitely not the last time we’ll be hearing from this amazing Swiss artist. It’s just the beginning of his blossoming career, to say the least. Now it’s storage tanks and who knows how massive – art-wise – he can still get. Maybe we can even put ourselves in his shoes and listen how he listens to everything surrounding him to be able to appreciate his art more. Zimuon says:

“Sometimes I listen very careful, and sometimes I don’t listen at all. I like a good balance between both. And both is very refreshing somehow. ” [3]

TNphoto Tatsuya Nakagawa
Tatsuya Nakagawa is the VP of Marketing and co-founder of Castagra Products, a storage tank and wastewater coatings manufacturing company that is highly acclaimed for its cold weather tank coating applications and its durable frac tank coatings. Castagra is used by the world’s top oil and gas field services companies.