Joan Fontcuberta & Das Synthetische Mischgewebe – El Jardi de les Delicies

El Jardi de les Delicies booklet cover
El Jardi de les Delicies booklet page
El Jardi de les Delicies 7-inch record side 1
El Jardi de les Delicies 7-inch record side 2

The work of Spanish photographer and conceptual artist Joan Fontcuberta, born 1955, confronts a pseudo-scientific approach to a highly aestheticized pictorial technique. His photos and installations document the results of an imaginary biological or historical research with fake animal species or freaks out of a cabinet of curiosity – like in the 1980 boardgame Quirks. In a way, he applies to photography the same processes as Gregory Whitehead applied to language – focusing on dereliction, combining opposites and applying a distancing effect. Fontcuberta had been showing his work in art galleries since the early 1980s when he sat up this exhibition, held at Centre d’Art Santa Mònica gallery in Barcelona in 1990. Titled El Jardi de les Delicies, or The Garden of Earthly Delights, it was an installation of photographs, stuffed animals, slide projection and sound. The 20pp catalogue came with a 7-inch record by Das Synthetische Mischgewebe, then based in Barcelona and comprising Isabelle Chemin, Guido Hübner and Carlos Jovellar for this project.

As the El Jardi de les Delicies exhibition included a number of frottograms, that is, negative Polaroid films rubbed against the actual object/animal represented on the film, the Das Synthetische Mischgewebe trio have recorded the rather physical process and came out with an immediate, vivid composition they called “frotto/fonos”, as they also presumably actually rubbed the microphone on stuffed animals or a serpent’s skin. Between noise and musique concrète, their soundtrack deliciously sounds like a microphone searching its way inside a fox’s earth!

01 The Growing (1:30)
02 Of the Results (3:27)
03 Into the State (3:41)
04 Of Hyperreality (1:21)

Total time 9:59
Catalogue+7inch record released by Generalitat de Catalunya and Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, Barcelona, Spain, 1990


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8 Responses to “Joan Fontcuberta & Das Synthetische Mischgewebe – El Jardi de les Delicies”

  1. 1 zlobnykloun September 6, 2012 at 10:22 am

    thanks for this!

  2. 2 continuo September 6, 2012 at 10:36 am

    You’re welcome.

  3. 3 s. borges September 6, 2012 at 11:34 am

    this sounds quite interesting.

  4. 4 continuo September 6, 2012 at 11:43 am

    It’s up to you to give it a listen.

  5. 5 guido hübner/DSM September 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    You got it right. We worked at the natural history museum in Barcelona. Went through hours of recordings of animals they have in their archive to create the three pieces for what became the ‘La boîte de Doolittle’ cassette on the Saragossa based label S.T.I. The pieces had been commissioned and been aired before by the Spanish National Radio in Madrid.
    We meet Joan Fontcuberta and Pere Formiguera then, who just presented their collaborative exhibition “Dr. Ameisenhaufen’s Fauna” or “Secret Fauna”, there. As Fontcuberta already planned his solo exhibition at the Santa Monica Museum in Barcelona, a collaboration came into existence which consisted of an installation with several auto reverse tape recorders and several chains of loudspeakers suspended from the ceiling with a switchboard sending the different recordings to the different loudspeaker lines with irregular changes. From this same recording session we produced the 4 pieces for the ‘7single. At the time we had nothing but a Sony Professional cassette recorder and a Fostex 4 track. All sound manipulation had been carried out straight during the recording process or by re-play through different objects and devices in association with the photographic process. And indeed, we rubbed microphones against the surfaces of the photographed objects, mirroring the actual photographic process he employed.

    Thanks for Your attention

    guido hübner/DSM

  6. 6 continuo September 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Well, the sounds are rather explicit. But I didn’t know you had been recording animals before, namely for the La boîte de Doolittle cassette.
    Thanks for the additional information.

  7. 7 guido hübner/DSM September 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Wasn’t my own recordings. The museum had an archive of recordings of animal sounds from all around the world (in quite different qualities as well). We composed with them in a studio of a media art foundation of the Caja Fond. 8, 4, and 2 track open reels. Very long tape loops (12m +++) and the like. Unfortunately the S.T.I. blokes messed up the cover design completely and the result had only a little run as at the time I wasn’t doing any distribution myself.

    So much,



  8. 8 guido hübner/DSM September 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Forgot to tell, for those who are interested and in the area of Leipzig, Sachsen, Germany. We have an installation running at Cage100 Exhibition, at the Galerie für zeitgenössische Kunst, organized by the Forum für zeitgenössische Musik, Leipzig. It will still run till the end of the month.



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