[…] n’avait jamais été – jamais si vite – entouré par les singes […]

As part of the program to commission works for public spaces launched by the Centre national des arts plastiques (Cnap), on the initiative of the French Ministry of Culture, and in partnership with local authorities, the sound and light installation […] n’avait jamais été – jamais si vite – entouré par les singes […] by Viriginie Yassef, a sound creation by Charles-Edouard de Surville, will be unveiled in Saint-Brieuc on March 17, 2023.

In partnership with the town of Saint-Brieuc (Brittany) and its Raymond Hains gallery, the temporary, reactivatable work will be accessible to all for two years at the Parc des Promenades in Saint-Brieuc.

[…] had never been – never so quickly – surrounded by monkeys […] is a sound and light “monkey theater” set against the foliage of a large tree. Like an unsuspected spectacle, both mysterious and enigmatic, the work takes place every evening at dusk. Although the monkeys are invisible, passers-by can hear their cries and even believe they can see them moving from branch to branch. Rocks invite the viewer to sit at the foot of the tree to witness the scene: the monkeys’ cries gradually form an ensemble, a chorus, until they form a moving song, both sad and uplifting, before fading away. By setting this up in a familiar environment, the artist conjures up an extraordinary spectacle out of the routine of everyday life, disrupting the bearings of those who witness it.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

For this sound creation, Charles-Edouard de Surville drew his inspiration from the natural songs of the “white handed gibbons”, processing forest recordings combined with synthesizer-based reconstructions. In order to recreate a passage of choral music, it was necessary to be able to control the pitch of the “notes” of the monkey songs. An algorithm was specially designed to capture the sound envelopes of the actual chants used in the piece and apply them to analog and digital synthesizers. In this way, the piece constantly flirts with the sensation of song and music that emanates from the natural cries of monkeys, ending in its final third with an evocation of Purcell and his famous aria from King Arthur.


Artist: Virginie Yassef

Sound creation: Charles-Edouard de Surville

A co-production

Centre national des arts plastiques (Cnap) ein partnership with the town of Saint-Brieuc (Brittany) and its Raymond-Hains gallery.