To make the invisible audible, or to un-un-listen (to use a term discussed in relation to my project Demmin – letting a city sound ), are scenographic strategies to engage with our surroundings and with our imagination. Scenographic worlding is, according to Hann, a strategy to “render stages affective and knowable” (Hann, 2019, p.84). She claims that “scenographic traits other, complicate and irritate a slicing of worlds that is ever present yet goes unseen and unconsidered” (Hann, 2019, p.135). Through sonic interaction with the space and that which resonates within it, sonic scenographies give presence to what might otherwise go unnoticed.



Worlding is also a way to imagine (and ‘construct’ in ways that are more than decorative) different worlds and to share the imagination of different possible worlds with others. Donna Haraway defines worlding in relation to SF (an abbreviation for science fiction as well as speculative fabulation) as "storytelling and fact telling; it is the patterning of possible worlds and possible times, material-semiotic worlds, gone, here, and yet to come" (Haraway, 2016, p.31). Worlding is different from worldbuilding as worlding is a practice, a process, a transitional, unstable making. Worldbuilding is done to support a narrative. But worlding goes further. It happens as the narrative. Even if initiated and supported by a director-scenographer, performers, audience members, space and sounds, the narrative resides in the work and not in its individual agents.



Scenography is also a writing in space, as indicated by the Greek origin of the word, where scene relates to site or place and graphia implies writing and drawing. In this form of writing, there are no pages to turn. The physical space is limited. Imagination however, as in all forms of writing, is limitless. The expansion of writing in space is facilitated over time. My practice is therefore a writing with sound, in a space, over time.

In order to give the audience the possibility to read this writing, it is important that the ways in which it appears, lingers, changes and disappears are well-developed and clear, and that it allows for a temporal reading. The language can be newly created and learned together during the creative process and the performance. It is in collaboration with the visuals, acoustics, textural characteristics, and architectural structures of the space, that a sonic spatial language evolves. When the language is both clear and open, its readings are versatile. In my work many readings are possible, and a plurality of readings is desired. Understanding appears and disappears. Meaning settles in these spatiotemporal makings and un-makings.


Sonic scenography as spatial sound performance



My work on a sonic scenography starts from the encounter with the site. I develop the scenography in the space. The preparation is nevertheless intense. I research, collect, prepare, sketch, and write in preparation for and during the creative process. This preparation enables and informs the creative dialogue with my collaborators on site. The design of my sonic scenographies develops from an exploration of what is present in the space, over the course of time (what is acoustically present may change over time, as may the light and other visual factors).



There are two phases during the development on site. In the first phase I am alone with the space. Attention to site-specific elements, as they reveal themselves gradually, is key here. I pay attention to the way in which the site-specific elements appear and exist. To experience how they change and interact among each other, and together with elements that I introduce, gives me an idea of the space’s inherent musicality. (Refer to The music inside space and the space inside music)



In the second phase I am joined by my musical collaboration partners. We explore the space anew through collective listening and sounding. This then leads to a learning from the space about one’s instrument, as the space transforms its expression and expands its possibilities for sonic expression. After the discovery of spatial ways of playing the instruments, the spatial sound composition can begin. It is a building with sounds and a composing of sonic elements over time in the space, with consideration of the changes that are possible for each sound and each relation inside of the whole composition. The sonic expressions are directed with their spatial effects in mind. The fluidity of sonic scenographies is encouraged not only by the ephemeral quality of sound but also by the movement of the performers in the space. The sonic scenography that is introduced is lively, and it performs. It is a spatial sound performance. (This is detailed in Composing in Space)



Over the past few years I have gradually reduced the introduction of visual scenographic elements (see artistic projects). In recent works costumes and light design are the only added visual elements. Photo documentation of my most recent works reveals only spaces and people. The rest of the scenography is sonic and therefore invisible to the camera, but it is the sounds that build and change forms. It is the sensing of the sonic space that makes the scenography accessible. Visually, my spatial sound performances could be nothing but regular social gatherings. Only formations, movements and attention-shifts may be observed. While the art may be invisible for an outsider, aurally the insider (the insider is defined by their position within hearing range) is taken to different worlds. One might be on a journey through an unknown country in Voiceland, walk through a three-dimensional architectural version of sacral music in Vokal-De-Konstruktion, or travel the universe where stars sing and planets express their composition through spatial music in Musica Mundana.


If creating scenography is an act of worlding, it is also an act of landing. By landing I mean the crafting of an interaction between the performers and the space within reach of the audience that surrounds them. There is an immediacy to landing. Similar to a landscape, it is not endless. It has its limitations. One frame for these limitations is the space that allows for the sonic scenography to take place. Landing is also related to arrival. It is the arrival and the settling of sonic worlds. It is the arrival of attention to the space, to the sonic encounter and to the social space that develops during the performance. Additionally, the arrival of the audience for whom the sonic scenography is created is a landing too.



As in nature, the process of landing is contingent, each element able to affect others. Landing is a relation or rather a multiplicity of relations within an environment. All elements are active and reactive. It is like when you enter a garden: The grass folds down under your feet as you feel its touch, the birds interrupt their singing momentarily as they become aware of your presence. The wind passes through your hair and simultaneously shakes the leaves off the tree next to you, but the interactions are not the same. As you stand in the garden, your perception of the landing is individual, but there is no isolation. Everything is connected.


The desire to explore the scenographic potential of sound was stimulated by the question of how to create truly site-sensitive sonic scenographies. The central idea of collaborating with the site as co-creator is the guide in all my investigations. The aim is to create - or rather co-create – scenographies that perform what is ‘at home’ in the site and that which develops in interaction with it. What I mean by this is that what ‘belongs to’ or is part of the space has its home there, and that the sonic expressions and performer’s presence become an expression specific to their relation to the site – and so also ‘find their home there’.


As I am educated as a scenographer, I employ tools and methods from this discipline in my research. As a scenographer I communicate with the space through the introduction of materials, e.g., wood, fabric or other objects. In my artistic research project Voicelanding, the material is acoustic sound, created live. This sonic scenography is performed by the musicians in interaction with the space. It is not perceived from a distance and it is never static as scenographies made of other material usually are. In sonic scenographies the audible becomes physically and bodily accessible for the audience as the musicians perform the fluid scenography all around and in relation to them. The way the performers relate to the space, to the sounds and to each other guides how the sonic scenography can be read. The musicians do not perform within the scenography, they are a part of it. Their performance embraces the audience in a sonic space. Sonic scenography, as a form of performance-making, is for me a way to create worlds of affective qualities for an audience. The experience of a sonic scenography can be explored individually, in proximity, and can therefore touch and move the audience physically and emotionally.



If musical composition is a positioning with (‘com’ = with), then site-sensitive sonic scenography positions sound with space, in relation to space. Sound here cohabits the space with the other elements. For example, in Vokal-De-Konstruktion the distribution of the voice groups and the movement of performers through the space were arranged in such a way that the voice and the presence of the performer were in dialogue with the architectural elements of the building, visually and acoustically. This co-presence was explored and developed during a workshop with the choir on site. The act of worlding with sound on site is the act of creating certain relationships between sounds in a space and with the acoustic qualities of the space. As sound is in constant change, relations in the space and between the individual sounds change over time. These relations and changes can be spatially arranged. The movement and other changes of the sounds can alter our perception of time in the way in which they change. But this is not all. Sonic scenography is the creation of a space with sound. This is a space that is made up of sound, and which can be entered. This sounding space interacts with and is not apart from the architectural space where the audience watches and hears the scenography unfold. As the sonic scenography collaborates with the site, it performs together with the architectural space, and the bodies that are in it. The sonic scenography envelops the audience actively in its unfolding. As an audience member, one is inside the development of the shapeshifting sonic scenography. Sonic lands expand and are cultivated by the performers whilst the audience can move through them. While this sonic scenography creates invisible fluid spaces together with and within a fixed space, it illuminates the presence of this space.



Scenography is, here, also a form of space-making. According to Rachel Hann, scenography can “score” how place is constituted (Hann, 2019, p.112). Using the verb score elevates the capacities for change in scenography over time in relation to a place. Instead of ‘place’, I prefer to use the word ‘space’ because it allows for more openness (it is less designated, but is nonetheless a defined area). The connections that are made to history, politics and memory can then be selected based on the people involved in the project and the material that comes up in interaction with the space. Space for me is specific. Spaces are created through interaction. There is an interrelation between action and structure that social scientist Martina Löw describes in her text The Constitution of Space (2008). In her research it becomes evident that “space is a relational category” (Löw, 2008, p.26). Learning that space is created through actions, and is perceived based on relations between objects, encouraged me to think about how consciously interacting with sound can create social space. In order to create sonic spaces, it is not enough to construct a space with sound. Interaction with sound needs to be initiated to show how sound can create spaces that are shared and which stimulate interaction. Sonic social space is one possible outcome of the sensibility with which we care for sound in interaction with space. We thereby extend the space-care implicated in this process towards other entities, as one way of connecting with them - and thereby constituting space through sonic scenography. (see space-care in the dictionary)



There are certain elements that unite, through their relations and interactions, into a spatial sound performance. As my sonic scenography is performed by musicians it is informed by the way in which the performers are present in the space. Their physical presence carries an understanding of the space. The sincere responsibility they hold for the content that we have created collectively through an introductory workshop reveals the care that was generated during the creative process. The care with which we tend to the space during the workshop informs the care that is later shared with the audience. Through this shared space-care we can constitute another space, a social space, where memory, imagination and feelings can emerge. We have the capacity within ourselves to experience the fluid scenography and the sonic bodies that envelop us, to let them engage with our selves, and to responsibly share a space. The free-moving audience negotiates the space with all other elements present. The sonic scenography unfolds, evolves, and disappears, and re-emerges in this interaction. The space between people varies while they move inside of the sonic scenography. The spatial sound composition that is the basis for the sonic scenography is created in a condition that stimulates, challenges, and expands our capacity to sense and experience sonic events. An attentive listening is required by performers and audience members alike. It is an act of noticing and caring. Listening is as much part of the materialisation of a sonic scenography as the physical presence of sounds. The audience is introduced to various modes of listening by the approach that the spatial sound performance reveals towards sound. The language that the performers and I have learned in the space, language here relating to any form of communication afforded by the dialogue with the space, is part of the perceptible vocabulary integrated in the performance. It is taught to the audience through ‘learning by experiencing’ as an alternative to ‘learning by doing’. One actively receives as one explores the sonic scenography with all the senses and thereby co-creates one’s own experience. (Co-creation is also discussed in Composing in Space)


Scenography is a specific strategy of theatre-making. It is often understood as being synonymous with stage design. Over time scenography has, however, been liberated from its dependence on a stage and can now be more openly defined as the creation of environments for performances. My own understanding of and relation to scenography expands continuously but never loses its core: In my practice scenography is a process of interacting with site and of stimulating the imagination in a spatial way. It goes beyond the visible, creating a connection between myself, performers and audience with our surroundings, a connection which manifests in a conversation between real and imagined elements.


When creating a sonic scenography, I read and interact with the space and the elements that are a part of it. (Refer to Music and Architecture and The music inside space and the space inside music). I acknowledge the immediate surrounding as an influence to be included in the work. For example, if one can hear the subway about every ten minutes, like in Reaktorhallen in Stockholm (Refer to Musica Mundana), one can work with sonic expressions related to or in dialogue with the sound created by the subway, instead of trying to ‘cover’ its occurrence. In general, in a site-sensitive sound performance sounds from the surroundings, however unexpected, are not considered to be a disturbance.



Even though the sonic scenography is the performing of a network of interactions and associations that were developed during a workshop with local musicians on site, including conversations about place and experience (See also the text Composing in Space and the project Demmin – letting a city sound ), there is no story that takes place, and there is no story to fit into the scenography. The sound scenography and its development is the narrative. The performance is the sonic scenography actively taking place. Scenography as something active is discussed by Rachel Hann in Beyond Scenography, where she distinguishes between “scenography (as a crafting of place orientation) and scenographics (that which orientate acts of worlding, of staging)” (Hann, 2019, p.14). Relating to my practice, one could say that the space and the potential that it holds is the scenographic and that the shaping of sound by the performers in dialogue with the space is the scenography.


Our experience of the world is usually dominated by visual impressions, and we seldom acknowledge how much sound guides us, and how much we depend on it. Sound informs us. As Pauline Oliveros writes in Sounding the Margins, “the ears tell the eye where to look and the eye sometimes silences the ear” (Oliveros et al., 2010). But sound also touches us. This is because sound is an active entity that interacts with us and other entities all the time. Sonic scenography in my work is never just the sound. It is always the relationship and the dialogue that sound has with the space, in all the ways one can perceive it. Most buildings are made for human beings but not necessarily for the human voice or the other instrumental expressions humans are capable of. This is an opportunity for learning. The balancing and negotiation of human bodies, and their sonic bodies with how the space reacts to their presence, is at the core of the development of my site-sensitive performances. I develop full audio-visual experiences addressing all of the audiences’ senses. The correlation between our visual experience and our aural perception is of outmost importance for my work. The performers are like live painters of a sonic scenography into the space. Their physical relation to it reveals the dimensions of the artwork. The performers are also builders of a structure, a musical architecture that the audience can walk through, contemplate within, and explore. Its visual, aural and other sensual information allow for the sonic construction to be explored as entirely as possible. This multisensory experience contrasts with the non-visual, non-referential, and non-indexical reduced listening to pure sound objects that Pierre Schaeffer proposed within musique concrète, and in acousmatic music where the source of the sound is not present/invisible.


The fact that the acoustic sounds used in my work are created by humans connects the audience to themselves. Their bodies are touched physically by sounds that are activated by other bodies. They become aware of their own presence and their own existence as much as the presence of others and their connectedness. Impressions are stimulated by familiar and unfamiliar human expressions which acknowledge that which surrounds them and reveal that which they are a part of. This sharing of sounds while listening with all senses and negotiating one’s place in the journeying sonic scenography with others gives the possibility for the constitution of a social space. The beauty of shared sonic space is not just its commonality. It is also the possibility for individuality within a shared space. Artist Ann Hamilton describes this as ‘Alone togetherness’. She explains that these experiences are “communal and individual at the same time” (Hamilton, 2015). Sonic scenography brings people and spaces, the sharing of space, into the foreground through spatial sound performances that engage all agents.


In a sonic scenography all its elements are active. Transitions can be both from one musical part to another (in time) and inside the sonic scenography through movement (in space). It is composed like music and choreographed like dance, structured like a perfume or like a building. This does not, however, necessarily mean that the changes are experienced as parallel or simultaneous. The perception of each audience member makes a difference in these complex moving sonic structures. In individual perspectives, stability is momentarily possible, like when we zoom our visual attention so far in, or out, so that the temporality of a form becomes our attention. The construction of these sonic forms changes over time and within a defined space. Sonic forms are made of different sonic materials. The material can be defined through pitch or dynamics, and can be experienced as varying in texture, elasticity, speed, reactivity, colour or weight. All sounds interact differently with the space and its various elements. The understanding of the acoustic qualities of a site, and the practical testing of sonic expressions in the space - the duration of certain frequencies, the area they fill, the insistence they have in the space - makes the building of sonic scenography concrete and specific to the site and the instrumentation involved.

Sonic scenography employs the aural sense(s) in combination with other listening modalities, including vision. Physically, sound shapes forms. The sonic material is developed with the intention of interacting with the space’s inherent qualities so as to respond to sound and to transform it. Sonic scenography here is not observed from a distance but experienced from within as a multisensory embodied experience. The physical relations the perceiver enters and negotiates are the key to the unfolding of the spatial sonic forms. Presence can become present in the ever-changing structures of sonic scenography.

However, sounds also have a strong connection to memory. We may associate the sonic scenography with a place where we have been before physically, emotionally or in our dreams. Our senses are individual. The brains interpretation of the signals we receive is related to what we have experienced thus far in our lives. This awareness is integral to the development of my works, leading to a sonic scenography that is concrete and abstract, allowing for individual readings. The creation of sonic scenographies for a free-moving audience can herein be seen as connected to labyrinths. They are organised structures, with several paths, where one gets lost in order to find oneself.





Hann, R., 2019. Beyond scenography. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, New York.


Haraway, D.J., 2016. Staying with the trouble: making kin in the Chthulucene, Experimental futures: technological lives, scientific arts, anthropological voices. Duke University Press, Durham.


Löw, M., 2008. 'The Constitution of Space: The Structuration of Spaces Through the Simultaneity of Effect and Perception.' Eur. J. Soc. Theory - EUR J SOC THEORY 11, 25–49.


Oliveros, P., Adams, J.A., Buzzarté, M., Dempster, S., 2010. Sounding the margins: collected writings 1992-2009. Deep Listening Publications, New York.


Palmer, S., 2015. 'A ‘choréographie’ of light and space: Adolphe Appia and the first scenographic turn.' Theatre Perform. Des. 1, 31–47.




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Opening Scenography


- Eliciting the scenographic potential of acoustic sound through site-sensitive performances



Sound as scenographic material lets three-dimensional scenography become four-dimensional as sound operates in time. It is spatial and temporal. The creation of a sonic scenography is a shaping of space(s) and the shaping of temporalities with sound, but sound is change, or expressed differently; change is an inherent quality of sound. Change is how sound spreads, and change is how its interaction with other elements is revealed. Therefore, the construction of a temporal structure for a sonic scenography needs to take the alterations of sound over time into consideration. The idea of the “choréographie” of scenographic elements over time was addressed by Adolphe Appia when he developed a dramaturgy with light at its centre. He saw light as a material, as plastic (Palmer, 2015). Unlike light, sound is not gone as soon as it is turned off. Sound continues to interact with its surroundings after the sonic event has taken place. This underlines again how important the understanding of the spatial acoustics is for the creation of sonic scenographies.