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Lontano

Installations

“Lontano” is an installation / event taking place in an anechoic chamber. It addresses the anechoic chamber as a site of research within several fields of relevance to my own practise, and also brings awareness to issues of spatial hearing, the rich soundscapes that surrounds us, and how we are situated and immersed in the world through sound.

It does so by inviting four persons at a time into the chamber for a shared session listening to surround sound field recordings.

Trond-lossius_ah

Photo by Anders Helgerud, used by permission, all rights reserved.

 

Anechoic chambers are designed to completely absorb reflections of sound waves, and inside the chamber all surfaces are covered with foam wedges made from sound absorbing material. These chambers are also insulated from exterior sources of noise, making them some of the quietest places on Earth. The architecture of the space, combined with the intense silence and absence of reverberation, makes the space claustrophobic and intimidating. In spite of the visual appearance, the anechoic chamber acoustically behaves as an infinite open out-door space. The anechoic chamber is used for research in the fields of music, audiology, hearing science and engineering. The fundamentals of our understanding of spatial hearing are to a large degree based on listening experiments carried out in anechoic chambers. Within the arts John Cage’s visit to the anechoic chamber at Harvard University is legendary, fundamentally changing his understanding of silence, music and noise. As such the anechoic chamber has made a seminar impact on contemporary arts practises as well.

 

Rain on window – one of several recordings used for the 2013 edition

 

“Lontano” is an installation event taking place in an anechoic chamber. 16 loudspeakers are mounted in the space, 8 at floor level and 8 near the ceiling, surrounding the audience. An audience of only four persons at a time are invited to enter the space along with the artist. They are given time to experience the space itself, and are then invited to be seated in the middle of the space. A series of Ambisonic field recordings are presented as 3D surround recordings. Depending on the social dynamics of the group, the listening session might be focusing on listening in silence, or turn into engaging discussions concerning how the room is experienced, the sensations, memories and thoughts triggered by the field recordings, or any other topic relevant to the group.

“Lontano” draws attention to our hearing capabilities, the phenomenology of listening, and in particular the spatial dimensions of hearing and listening. Additional it addresses how hearing helps situating and immersing us in the world, and how rich and detailed sound perception of the surrounding environment is.

 

Dale in Fjaler on a summers night, seagulls by the river mouth,
one of several recordings used for the 2013 edition

 

“Lontano” was first realised at the anechoic chamber at the Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen as part of the Borealis festival 2013. For the duration of the festival, a total of 27 listening sessions were carried out, with the audience totalling more than 100 persons.

 

Review by Anne Hilde Neset in Klassekampen 2013-03-25

Interview in Studvest, by Anders Helgerud, 2013-11-19

 

I would like to thank Elin Øyen Vister for company and practical help, Geir Olve Skeie and Kjell Grøndahl for providing me with access to the anechoic chamber, Jan Bang for productive and fun discussions at the site prior to the opening, Signe Lidén and Anne Marthe Dyvi for organising an event prior to the opening, Alwynne Pritchard and everyone else at the Borealis festival for help with the production, Anders Helgerud for photo documentation, and each and everyone that visited and experienced the work. I have fond memories of the many interesting and stimulating meetings and conversations we had.

Supported by Borealis festival, Arts Council Norway, the Municipality of Bergen, Bergen College of Art and Design, Norwegian Artistic Research programme and BEK – Bergen Centre for Electronic Arts.