Sonic Visions of the Arctic (2021-2023 postponed due to Corona)

International postdoctoral research project  funded by Swedish Research Council.

Short abstract | Application

Sonic Visions of the Arctic is a transdisciplinary study that will investigate the “agency of the sonic” by establishing alternative perceptions of the Arctic as a site and public space of great global significance. Methodologically, the study seeks to apply a transversal approach, understanding spatial production as involving complex, inter-relational, affective processes.

By investigating  the  current and  potential  role of the acoustic underwater technologies —hydrophone as well as sonar technology — currently used in scientific research on the Arctic, as well as by exploring the complex artistic processes of transformation that take place when the scientific data extracted by these technologies is transformed in an artistic context, the overall aim is to advance explorative approaches, methods, and conceptual tools that contribute to a more complex understanding of the processes at work.

To do this, the proposed project intends to both map existing sonic worlds and to develop new sonic experiences, elucidating the complex processes involved in taking sound’s unused potential into consideration. Sonic Visions of the Arctic thus addresses a topic that remains largely unexplored within artistic research in general, and site-specific sonic practice specifically.

Before Sound—Transversal Processes in Site-Specific Sonic Practice (2018)

Doctoral Thesis, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.  

Link to digital version of doctoral thesis

Abstract | Dissertation

Before Sound explores the capacity of site-specific practices of sound installation to bring about transformation. It claims that in order to understand this capacity, we need to address the complexity of the transversal processes that make up artistic practices in this field, and understand that these transversal processes in fact precede sound. This means understanding site-specificity as a complex, affective practice spanning across and connecting the material, social, discursive, artistic, and technical realms at the same time in a given situation in public space.

Based on experiences from the author’s site-specific practice of sound installation, the thesis explores different approaches, and a series of related conceptual tools, in order to articulate the nuances of such transversal processes. These approaches, informed by a philosophy of immanence, are: mapping the affective lines, establishing new connections, and becoming non-auton- omous. These three approaches look to re-negotiate some of the traditions, tendencies, and assumptions that dominate existing artistic sonic strategies.

By exploring these three approaches, the dissertation suggests that it is possible to emphasize and practice transversality. This in its turn, has the potential to affect site-specific sonic practice artistically and in terms of re-search and education. Further, the dissertation shows how such an approach activates the ethical dimension of site-specific sonic practice. In particular, it involves dismantling the established separation between artist-subject, site, and work, in order to acknowledge the transversal affective relations between specific and diverse “bodies” with agencies—human as well as non-human.

Beyond making visible the transversal nature of site-specific sonic practice, the explorations also open up future perspectives in thinking about the field. Not least, the research points towards the importance of overcoming hierarchical models of thought that dominate within a range of discourses and institutions central to art practice. Such a shift has the potential to radically transform the power structures that exist between commissioners of art, artists, a site’s own inherent agencies, and the visitor. Further, a change in our thinking of the type described in this work is also needed if we are to broaden existing dialogues on the artistic work, representation, material, and process.