The Carileon is an outdoor musical sculpture at the crossroads between church bellsand wind-chimes. Its name is derived from the French word "Carillon", a religious musical instrument housed in a belfry and composed ofat least twenty-three bells. The bells can be played serially to produce a melody or together to form a chord.
The Carileon is composed of a series of aluminum tubes varying in diameters and lengths, each containing a wooden ball connected to a resin cylinder. The sculpture operates musically on two levels; while the wind swings the tubes against the balls and plays clear sounds, the tubes are also meant to be played with felt mallets by a musician, creating soft melodies.
These two musical dimensions allow musicians to play a seamless melody together with nature.
The Carileon is performed here by Loup Barrow.
Production Team: Tim Leung, Buzio Saraiva (ADM), Frederic Jangot & Jacques Le Disez (CREE), Olivier Sence // Commissioned by Krug
Photography by Stephane Deroussent, Peter Szollosi and Thomas Derain
The Carileon, by Sebastien Leon // Performed by Loup Barrow and the wind
Carileon, acrylic on dyed linen, 4' x 3'
163 NEF, Istanbul (Turkey), May 2011
The Golden Horns are a permanent large-scale sound sculpture located in an Istanbul high-rise tower. Composed of intertwined brass pipes inspired by a French Horn, the installation runs vertically through the building, piercing the infra-structure to carry its intrinsic sounds coming from the the ground floor bazaar, the parking garage, the water pipes, the cinema, the lobby etc.
Navigating through the pipes, visitors can either isolate specific sounds or listen to the multi-channel soundscape. Sonic filters and digital harmonizers alter the sound waves in real time, offering a unique experience at every single listen. All the pipes, electronically tuned in the E minor scale, turn random noises into the soundscapes of a continuously improvised symphony.
The Golden Horns culminate with a site-specific installation on the observatory of the building located on its thirty-fifth floor, allowing visitors to listen to the life of the tower while admiring the cityscape of Istanbul in a room composed of windows and a a tessellation of angled mirrors.
Production Team: Alper Boler, Theresa Himmer, Kristján Eggertsson, Edwin Liu, Lee Weinberg // Commissioned by NEF
Commissioned by Brian Atwood, February 2012
Born from the encounter of op art and glam rock, The Leontophone is a 32-foot long musical sculpture composed of 178 mirrored aluminum keys reflecting distorted images of reality, commissioned by Brian Atwood. Named after a Medieval mythological poisonous snake, the Leontophone intends to poetically hypnotize its audience through its three-dimensional geometric tessellation and psychedelic sonic landscape.
One could get lost in the repetition of simple shapes, in the deformed reflections of the angled keys, or in the loops of acoustic music subtly altered by both electronic pedals and digital effects.
Production Team: Situ Studio, Edwin Liu, Lee Weinberg // Commissioned by Brian Atwood
Between Now and Then
Park Avenue Armory, New York (USA), November 2011 // Palais de Tokyo, Paris (France), June 2012 // Palazzo della Triennale, Milan (Italy), April 2012 // UCCA, Beijing (China), August 2012
The multi-channel sound installation piece “Between Now and Then”, played through nearly one thousand aluminum pipes, proposes a new experience of time by infiltrating the intrinsic sounds of timepieces and by rearranging ambient recordings from the Vallée de Joux, the craddle of fine watchmaking located in Switzerland. Watch ticking becomes beats, cow bells turn into zen gongs, and stretched church organ samples mutate into meditative sound waves, all giving a glimpse into the elastic dimension of time.
Production Team: Formavision (Chris Hoover, Edwin Liu), MA3, Matthias Kispert // Commissioned by Audemars Piguet
NEF, Istanbul (Turkey), May 2011
Crystal Caves, a commission by Turkish real estate developer NEF, is a series of four new screening rooms located in Istanbul. All varying in shapes and colors, the rooms allow the viewers to watch movies while lounging on triangulated pillows composing a cave-like landscape.
Back in the dawn of mankind, caves were a place of shelter, gathering, spiritual retreat and artistic expression. It is through cave art that early humans told their stories, feelings, thoughts and addressed spiritual questioning. The triangulated environment of Sebastien Leon Agneessens is a contemporary version of a cave, a comfortable place for shelter and social interaction, and a cultural epicenter for cinematic story-telling.
Production Team: Theresa Himmer, Kristjian Eggertsson and Alper Boler // Commissioned by NEF
Max Mara Gallery, New York (USA), September 2009
A numerical play on the year in which the project was created, MMIX redeploys the concept of the remix to highlight the value of ethno-diversity in a modern world defined by rapid globalization. Composed of six totemic speakers made of zebrawood adorned with circular brand marks, the multi-channel installation establishes a dialogue between contemporary music and archival field recordings of vanishing cultures from around the globe.
The field recordings used for MMIX are provided by the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE), founded by renowned musicologist Alan Lomax (1915-2002) who traveled the world recording the sounds and songs of indigenous cultures, ranging from descendants of slaves in the Mississippi Delta, to Scottish tweed workers and the residents of Italian fishing villages.
For MMIX, we integrated the ACE samples with newly composed tracks created in collaboration with various artists such as Andrew Vladeck and Caithlin De Marrais, Bob Hoffnar, Konrad Meissner, Kevin Ley and Josh Kaufman.
In addition to the installation, we invited choreographers Andrea Miller of Gallim and Jodi Melnick to conceive site-specific performances based on the newly created music and on the layout of the totemic speakers.
Production Team: Jason Ivaliotis, Kyle Fischer // Recording artists: Sebastien Leon, Kyle Fischer, Andrew Vladeck, Konrad Meissner, Caithlin DeMarrais, Bob Hoffnar, Josh Kauffman // Alan Lomax Sound Samples from the Association for Cultural Equity // Commissioned by Max Mara
The Conference of the Birds
Audi, Haixinsha Island, Guangzhou (China), November 2013
At the occasion of the Innovation Exhibition taking place in December 2013 on Haixinsha Island in the heart of Guangzhou (China), Marc Hungerbuhler from the Artist Network and German car manufacturer Audi A.G. commissioned Sebastien Leon to create an installation celebrating the relentless innovations of Audi in particular relating to the extra-light weight technology.
Sebastien Leon filled a spherical room fifteen meters in diameter with over a thousand silver foil balloons, some filled with air and others with helium, all reflecting a hypnotic image of the car, the room and its visitors. Floating on the ceiling, fifteen wireless speakers play an electronic symphonic dialogue of filtered industrial sounds mixed with the songs of thirty different birds.
The installation is based on Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar’s series of poems called “The Conference of the Birds.” Written in 1177, these poems tell the tale of thirty birds who embark on a long journey in order to elect a King. Their perilous flight takes them from Persia to China with the goal of finding the Simorgh - the Chinese Phoenix - supposed to embody the most accomplished of the birds. After painfully crossing the seven initiatic valleys of yearning, love, gnosis, detachment, unity of God, bewilderment and selflessness, they finally reach the land of the Simorgh. Upon arrival, they find only a quiet lake with no sign of the mythical bird. Approaching the lake and looking down, they see their own reflections and come to realize that God is simply within them, that they hold their own destinies in their hands.
The poems of Farid ud-Din Attar embody Audi’s constant drive for fine-tuning existing technologies and introducing radical innovations. The concept is also directed towards the Chinese audience of Guangzhou itself, which, as a manufacturing center of the world, has a strong impact on the balance between the earth and the industry.
Sebastien Leon’s installation hence acts as a meditative dialogue between Audi A.G. and its Chinese clientele, provoking a reflection on the balance between industrial development and the environment, as well as the role we play as individuals in this fine symbiosis.
Production Team: Formavision (Chris Hoover, Zafrin Hossain), Matthias Kispert, Lee Weinberg, Miley Lu // Commissioned by Audi and the Artist Network
The Conference of the Birds, by Sebastien Leon
Reebok, New York (USA), October 2010
To conceive and develop the Reebok's first concept store located on Bowery Street in New York, Sebastien Leon took inspiration from Vorticsim, an English arts movement from the early 20th century noted for its dynamic interpretation of Cubist and Futurist principles. Combining Vorticism's vibrant aesthetic with an assortment of cultural cues ranging from Purple Rain to Miami Vice, Flash Dance to Thriller, Sebastien sought to capture the pop spirit of the 80s.
"The design of the space plays with the sense of depth and perspective, tricking the eye by extending three dimensional shapes into distorted graphic patterns, a camouflaging technique reminiscent of the Royal Navy's dazzle ship graphics from the First World War. Our intent was to provoke and perhaps confound visitors by making them feel as if they are stepping into a print rather than a store", Sebastien Leon.
Production Team: Chris Hoover Formavision, Jeroen de Schrijver, Ellen Depoorter, Jason Ivaliotis, Mai Kato, Jonas Hjertberg, Shinya Nakamura // Commissioned by Reebok
The Joulétoile (French translation, "playing a star") is an imaginary electronic sound sculpture connected to the movement of the moon, sun and the myriad of constellations around the earth.
By associating specific sounds to over one hundred celestial bodies and then playing each individual soundtrack according to their presence in the sky, the Joulétoile plays a one-year long, multi-channel symphony, repeating with the revolution of the earth around the sun.
Krug, Plaza Athénée (Paris), April 2014
For the third edition of "Krug en Capitale", Champagne house Krug invited Studio Sebastien Leon and thrice three-star chef Alain Ducasse to conceive a temporary restaurant on top of the Plaza Athénée while in the middle of renovations.
The evening started with a performance of steel guitar and the rare Cristal Baschet, taking guests through a hypnotic musical journey across vast American desert landscapes, all while observing the sun set on the Eiffel tower.
The happy few were then taken to a dining room imagined by Sebastien Leon, with tables, seating and artworks created for the occasion. The dinner, entirely composed by Alain Ducasse, underscored at every stage the rich notes of carefully picked Champagnes.
To conclude the evening, guests were invited to the rooftop to listen to Sebastien Leon's musical creation - the Carileon - playing soft melodies in the wind.
Production Team: Formavision, ADM, Creee // Commissioned by Champagnes Krug
Nine West, April 2011
The Pearl Chamber is a concept store design commissioned by women's shoe and handbag company Nine West for its flagship New York location.
The space is filled with stalactites light fixtures illuminating stalagmites used as shoe displays or seating areas. The Pearl Chamber is conceived as a cave filled with basic geometric protrusions all progressively varying in sizes and shapes, bringing a hypnotic and organic quality to the experience.
Concept drawing - 6 x 8 1/2" - China ink and acrylic on Moleskine paper
Paris, New York
New York, April 2009
Invited to design the New York showroom for French fashion designers Marithé+François Girbaud, Sebastien Leon photographed an abandoned Parisian interior from the Haussmann era and reproduced it on wallpaper, quite literally bringing Paris to New York. The space was completed with French parquet, musical instruments and second-hand furniture.
Production Team: Formavision (Chris Hoover), MA3, Site // Commissioned by Marithé + François Girbaud
Audemars Piguet, world tour, 2012-2013
Invited by Audemars Piguet to curate and design the 40-year anniversary exhibition of the Royal Oak watch, Sebastien Leon conceived a traveling exhibition using design, photography, music and video to showcase one hundred exceptional timepieces and underscore the Manufacture's heritage and craft. Sebastien brought along video artist Davide Quayola and photographer Dan Holdsworth to contribute to the exhibition's vision by each producing work about the origins of Audemars Piguet.
The core of the exhibition was made to resemble a fragmented mineral rock typically found in the Vallée de Joux in the Swiss Jura and symbolizing Audemars Piguet. The angular and multi-faceted exterior of each of the fragments and its dark reflective metal surface inspired by the geometric Royal Oak design created a natural contrast with the wooden interior which reflects Audemars Piguet’s long tradition and humble origins.
The Royal Oak 40-year anniversary tour was developed and orchestrated in collaboration with MA3 Agency and toured from New York (Park Avenue Armory) to Paris (Palais de Tokyo), Milan (Palazzo della Triennale), Beijing (UCCA), Geneva (Arena) and Singapore (the abandoned Tanjong Pagar train station). It continued its journey to Art Basel Hong Kong, Basel and Miami in 2013 as part of the official Art basel exhibition.
Production Team: Formavision (Chris Hoover), MA3, Situ Fabrication // Commissioned by Marithé + François Girbaud