Research Questions

As an artistic researcher, you’re asked to formulate a set of research questions, which can be adjusted along the way and serve as a guideline for your research result(s). These questions should function as a platform and foundation for your research and practice. As an artist I am used to a more improvisational, work-in-progress and relational framework instead of a pre-planned sequence of events with a more controlled output. Subconsciously I have tried to avoid answering my own questions, to keep things dynamic and open and to rather follow the natural development and processes of my project and its embedded logic. 


Now and then I have tried to stop, to reorient and revisit my questions throughout the project. To help me to calibrate my processes and to navigate further and towards desired results. The day-to-day motivation for my project has been my love for nature, for sound, for music, for art, for literature, for film and so on, and to listen to the landscape’s multiple voices, to learn new things, to travel, to experience new places and sites, their history, their atmosphere, their energy and presence.


These were my research questions when I started in October 2018: 


1. What are the sounds and soundscapes of our time, natural and manmade? 


2. In what way has the sonic environment changed in Norway this past decade?


3. Can sonic and soundscape archaeology help us to understand and 

    translate the contemporary anthrophony?


4. How do everyday sounds (city and nature; noise and silence) affect 

    our physiological and psychological responses?


Starting with these four questions my research will present a broad spectrum 

of sonic experiments and knowledge through artistic approaches. 


In order to investigate The Sound of Time - Tuning into the Norwegian Landscape and the Post-Industrial Soundscape, I will carry out systematic listening sessions, sound walks and field studies, and practice forms of collaboration with other artists (both visual and musicians), other experts and local historians. 


These studies and collaborations may enter into an open-ended process, which determines their strategies and methods. I am aiming to generate new research and alternative models of thinking and knowledge. 


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Later I re-formulated, fine-tuned and adjusted these questions slightly. To make them stand out and more 

precisely express the contextualisation, methods and the professional agency of my research. These are my 

Research Questions that I adjusted in October 2019, and that I kept until the end:


1. What are the human and non-human sounds and soundscapes of our time? 


2. In what way has the sonic environment changed in Norway this past decade?


(Sound pollution, the death of species, technology, architecture etc)


3. Can active listening, sonic experiments and soundscape archaeology, help us to understand and translate the contemporary anthrophony?


4. How do everyday sounds (urban and nature; noise and silence) affect 

    our physiological and psychological responses?


Starting with these four questions my research will present a broad spectrum 

of sonic experiments and knowledge through artistic approaches. 


In order to investigate The Sound of Time - Tuning into the Norwegian Landscape and the Post-Industrial Soundscape, I will carry out systematic listening sessions, sound walks and field studies, and practice forms of collaboration with other artists (both visual artists and musicians), other experts and local historians. 


These studies and collaborations may enter into an open-ended process, which determines their strategies and methods. I am aiming to generate new research and alternative models of thinking and knowledge. 


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Answering these questions is not an easy task, but I have made a series of answers or open discussions

around the selected themes and discourses.


Question No. 1

What are the human and non-human sounds and soundscapes of our time? 

So, what are the new sounds, new environments and changes that exist in Tromsø, the Arctic, in Norway and the global world that shapes our experience of the landscape and the environment that I’ve been reflecting upon in my artistic research project. I’m not really eager to create a set list of sources in a fixed range, but I will try to highlight a couple of sounds and sources that I find relevant and interesting to reflect more deeply upon. Since I started with my project back in 2018, the world became silent during the pandemic and then noisy again when the world opened back up. Still things (and the sound environments) are not back to zero or normal again. They might never do so, but I find these changes and continuous processes extremely interesting and fascinating.


Mobile phones / smartphones (senders and receivers)

Who doesn’t have a mobile phone or a smartphone today? (My mum and my grandmother don’t actually). Very few, at least in our part of the world. We carry these small mobile computers that send out data signals and information about us all the time. It would actually be very interesting to map and hear them all at once. From the start, I’ve always been fascinated by the sound of a mobile phone that accidentally pops up in your stereo and starts jamming with the music. Suddenly the signal becomes visible, in a sense. Like morse code from the other side. It’s not meant to be there, it’s a glitch. I’m fascinated and intrigued by the fact that it appears and becomes audible. The invisible becomes visible. Listening to smartphones with the electromagnetic antenna makes you curious and frightened at the same time. They’re small screaming distorted monsters. Am I wearing all these signals close to my body all the time? How does it affect me? My brain, my sperm, my mental state, will it affect our genes and so on? We actually know very little about the longterm effects these phones and their radiance have on our bodies. In Tokyo it is prohibited to have your mobile sound or notification signals on, or to speak out loud when travelling on the subway. I can totally understand it, it is so annoying to listen to private conversations on the bus. Things you should not really hear, but that are impossible to overlook. I guess we have to learn sonic manners in public.


Cash machines / ATMs (Automated Teller Machines)

Cash machines are talking robots, their sound reminds me of R2-D2’s (Artoo-Detoo) voice from Star Wars. The first time I chose to listen to a cash machine with an electromagnetic antenna at Nerstranda shopping mall in Tromsø (February 2019) I was shocked that it creates such a great variation and rich spectre of tones and rhythms (almost like the electro acoustic work of Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim), that exist outside the human ear frequency range. I sometimes wish I could see these signals moving as colourful laser lines, like a moving aura photography in 3D. Even though we can’t hear them, there are other living beings that actually can. This unconscious use of frequency and range that affects other beings, is something we have to consider and increasingly care for in years to come. Interference from electronics and radio signals can disrupt the internal magnetic compasses of migratory birds, so they get lost. This is just one example of how human provided sounds affect animals and other living beings. Over the last five years my personal use of ATMs in Norway has decreased, personally I hardly use cash anymore. Most places accept credit cards, Apple Pay or Vipps. I think that cash machines are a threatened species like the dinosaurs and that they will slowly fade out. Maybe I should buy one and keep in my synth collection? Once I was in a meeting with the banking company Nets, that provides portable bank and money transfer solutions. They wanted me to do sound design for their bank terminals. I can recall we had discussions about non-traceable patterns and making the melody a bit more custom friendly for impaired-users. I did some sketches, but in the end, I did not hear back from them, unfortunately, I really liked the idea of having my sounds provided and played, when friends and family swiping their credit cards.


Computers, data centres (bitcoin mining) 

Big data centres are often located in rural and cool places. They need a lot of energy and are placed in countries and counties where subsidised electricity is available. In general, the crypto economy gains wealth for very few, it uses an incredible amount of energy and doesn’t provide the jobs necessary in the countryside as traditional industry would. Still it adapts the language of traditional industry, using words like farm, trading, mining and currency. In 2018 the Norwegian government published a Data Centre Strategy, this led to subsidised electricity for the establishment of new data centres in Norway. The intention was to attract big companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook etc. and to create new growth. Instead, an array of bitcoin and crypto mining factories occurred in rural locations around Norway, like the New Mining Company in Alvdal, Kryptovault in Dale, Lefdal Mine in Sandane and inside the Arctic Catch fishing factory in Vardø to name but a few. Most of these centres are de-activated or run at a minimum today. In 2019, I visited and recorded the sound of crypto currency inside the old textile factory in Dale in Hordaland. It was a stunning and noisy experience. You can hear the track that is part of a collection of field recordings from the artistic research project here.


Wind turbines

In 2019, I was involved in the Struer Tracks, Sound Art Festival together with a group of other professional sound artists and field recordists like Siri Austen, Yngvild Færøy, Espen Sommer Eide, Rune Søchting, Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir and Eduardo Abrantes. Later, the project, Reality-based Audio Workshop, that was originally established as a workshop conducted by Espen Sommer Eide and Ernst Karel at Bergen Electronic Art Center (BEK) in 2018, involving artist such as Joakim Blattmann, Siri Austen, Jiska Huizing, Yngvild Færøy, Bodil Furre, Rune Søchting, Signe Lidén and myself, led to a recording excursion at the Mongstad oil and gas refinery that later materialised as an audio cinema experience at the Cinematheque in Bergen as part of the Borealis Festival program in 2019. We also visited Test Centre Østerild, a centre for wind turbines. Usually placed out in the ocean, the turbines there were some of the largest in the world. When they established the centre, people residing close by had to move, there should be a distance of at least 1000 meters from residential properties and holiday cottages. I was told that most people moved away, except one earless old lady, who was given permission to stay. The noise didn’t bother her. Staying a couple of hours there, was an eerie experience. I felt really dizzy and exhausted, but couldn’t really figure out why. Later I realised it must have been all the ultrasonic frequencies that were at play and affecting my body and mind, even though the general audio level experienced wasn’t too bad. Outside Tromsø, “Nordlys Vind”, a wind turbine park at Kvaløya, polluted the groundwater with oil (hydrocarbon) to such an extent that the inhabitants nearby in Kattfjord could no longer drink the local water. These are just a few examples of how the ‘green shift’ camouflage their intentions, affect the landscape, the people living off the land and those living nearby, for profit. Unfortunately, what we see now is just the very beginning. There will be more exploitation of land and extraction of natural resources in Norway and the rest of the world, in years to come. At the same time more and more people, environmentalists, artists and activists are becoming aware of the development and the green shift (that all in all isn’t that green) and are fighting to resist the governmental licenses and the international energy companies that are trying to profit from the transition from fossil fuel to ‘green’ energy. In the end, if we are all going to drive electric cars, it’s not really that sustainable. We have to consume less, travel less and develop public transport networks. In 2019, I visited and recorded the sound of Fakken Wind Turbine Park at Vannøya, it is approximately 90 km from Tromsø. You can hear the track here.


Electric cars / electric bikes / electric scooters

It’s hard for me to get used to the sound of electric cars. I find them a bit freaky and alienating, with their whining sound they almost remind me of the sound of a flying ghost, passing, not that I’ve heard one, but at least that’s the image that pops up into my mind. It’s weird, but I actually sometimes miss the sound of a real engine, moving parts of metal and rubber, the warm analogue hum that resonates through metal, that generate the melody of engine buzz. Sadly (from a sonic perspective), I’m pretty sure electric cars are here to stay, so I guess I just have to get used to them, hopefully they will improve their sound in the near future. Maybe you could change between vintage or a modern audio-preset?After moving up to Tromsø, I decided to buy an electric bike, first I was very sceptical, felt a bit like a pensioner. I do not have a driving licence or a car, so for me it was a way to be able to move around when doing field work or hiking in the mountains nearby. It makes some noise, but it sounds more like a turning construction lift or an out of proportions big electric toothbrush. You can decide which gears to use, you can swap in between Eco, Tour, Sport or Turbo and this affects how much the motor drives and how much sound it makes. Surprisingly, if you use the Eco level only, it is pretty good for your stamina and there’s not much noise. The e-bike have been a silent contributor and steady companion to many of my shorter field trips around the Tromsø area.


During summer 2018, the first commercial electric scooters or e-scooters were established in Oslo and a couple of other cities in Norway by companies such as VOI and Tier. In 2021, there were more than 24,000 e-scooters in Oslo, which led to a chaotic traffic situation and numerous accidents. No other European city has more scooters per inhabitant. After a major public discussion, Oslo City Council decided to decrease the number. New regulations reduced the number to 8,000 from September 2021. Twelve companies were granted permission to operate a rental scheme: Ayva, Bird, Dott, Tier, Ryde, ShareBike, Wind, Lime, Bolt, Voi, Bydue, and CATS. This means each company could have 667 e-scooters available. Since then it has even become more regulated and now there are only a dozen providers left in the capital. Listening to the cityscape of Oslo (I guess other cities as well) today, you can’t avoid picking up the volatile sounds from these vehicles. Long-lasting, high-pitched tones that mix with the sounds of people, bikes, air-conditioning, cars, dogs, construction sites, planes, trains and so on. This is the seductive contemporary ambience of the Norwegian landscape of 2022, like it or not.


Heat pump / air conditioning

Air conditioning and heat pumps are a relatively new phenomenon in Norway. The first AC-unit was developed and made commercially available by Willis Havilland Carrier in 1925. The first heat pump in Norway was installed in 1978 (ABC Nyheter). Today there are more than 900,000 heat pumps in private homes in Norway. When I was a kid, no one (at least very few) had air conditioning in their private homes. These days it seems very common to have one mounted outside on the wall of the villa, serving both as air conditioning and as a source of heat. Though their presence is often quiet and almost unnoticeable for humans, some of them have faults that create interesting rhythms or piercing frequencies. When walking through a villa neighbourhood in Tromsø at night, the most alert listener can experience a soft rotating fan symphony. Slightly annoying and beautiful at the same time. I have a fetish for them, recording and photographing them when I am out walking. When I first moved to Tromsø in 2018 I can recall a recording that I did with my iPhone 6, outside the car park of Eurospar, a grocery store in the city centre. I walked by one evening, noticing a high pitch around 12.000 Hz playing out loud, mixing in and out of passing cars and screaming seagulls.


Airplanes / helicopters

Airplanes are not really new, but in a small place like Tromsø the increasing numbers of tourists and the Norwegian people’s travel habits have raised the number of flights from

1,701,163 passengers in 2009 to 2,468,255 in 2019. This means 28,393 flights a year in 2009 as opposed to 34,474 in 2019, that is 77 planes daily in 2009 as opposed to 94 in 2019 (from Statistiknett). Eliane Radigue, a French musician and composer, was inspired by airplane engines and their great variation and overtones in her early electronic works. “The planes of today have too efficient motors,” she states in an interview with Electronic Beats Magazine in 2012. She is also one of the pioneers exploring the infamous synthesizer Arp 2500. Radigue’s work has been a great inspiration to me since I started at NTNU KIT, The Art Academy in Trondheim in 1996. I was introduced to her work, Biogenesis, by fellow student Leif Inge Xi, who is also a sound artist today, though he wasn’t at the time. He had a great interest in experimental and electronic music. The album, a mini cd (3 inch), consists of one long duration track of 21:06 minutes. It was part of series called ‘Cinéma Pour L’Oreille’ (Cinema for the Ear), curated by French musician Jérôme Noetinger and his Metamkine label. Leif Inge also introduced me to AMM III, a free improvising ensemble consisting of Eddie Prévost and Keith Rowe. It is interesting to look back and examine how important certain things are in shaping you as an artist and as an individual. This sure made a huge impact on me as a sound artist at an early stage when I was not even sure about becoming an artist.


Motfugl / Bird scaring kite

Have you ever wondered about the flapping (frrrrrrr) sounds from the moving kites that look like predatory birds from rooftops above your head? These bird-scaring devices are relatively new phenomena in Norway. Suddenly they’re all over the place, on every rooftop. I find them interesting and a bit stupid. Think how many resources we use to keep animals away? Sometimes it’s necessary (who wants rats in their basement?), but often a bit stupid and cruel. Do they actually keep birds away from rooftops? I’m not sure. Once I saw a seagull sitting beside one relaxing and contemplating. I thought it was a delightful image. At least they are funny to look at when they are surfing the wind, sometimes there’s a dozen, performing a grand ballet towards the skyline. One bright summer night, I recorded a bird scaring kite in a kindergarden in Tromsø, for me the recording is mystical and a bit obscure, just like the kite itself.


Krykkja / black-Legged Kittiwakes

Black-legged kittiwakes are a species of gull under threat in Norway. In recent years, the population has increased in the city centre of Tromsø. In 2018, there were 42 nesting pairs in the centre of Tromsø. In 2019, this had increased to 115 nesting pairs (Tone Reinertsen /NINA). They’re located at Fylkeskommunen (Troms and Finnmark County Hall), Tromsø Kunstforening (Tromsø Art Association), the former Mack Brewery and several other industrial and office buildings in the city centre. Just follow the sound. The sound of kittiwakes is pretty intense during the nesting season from May-August. Since I started in Tromsø, the population of kittiwakes has escalated in the city centre. Many companies and businesses look upon them as a problem. For me it is the opposite. It is how we deal with them that is a problem. The municipality put up a huge covering net outside the front of Tromsø Kunstforening. This led to many birds being injured and some even died. Black-legged kittiwakes are protected in Norway. After much debate in the local newspaper, the municipality started to talk with artists, scientists and the local business, this has led to the building of several bird hotels with fake birds and alluring sounds. I am pretty sure the kittiwakes are here to stay, at least for many years to come. I find it lovely and charming that we can live among these fantastic creatures, so close to nature, in an urban environment, their sounds can be demanding, for sure, but so are our sounds and our impact on nature. We are noisy bastards, the loudest in existence.

Tourism / Winter Tourism / No Tourism

The number of winter tourists has increased by over 1000% from 2008 to 2018. I contacted NHO Arktis Reiseliv, (The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, Arctic, Tourism), to get proper data and facts to visualize the drastic scale.It was very visible in the city centre, but how to map that change? There were 36,000 visitors to Tromsø in the winter of 2008/09, and by 2016/17, there were 194,000. Statistics show that there were 1,001,922 commercial,  holiday accommodations registered in Tromsø Kommune, Tromsø Municipality in 2019, and that there had been 581,341 in 2020. Tromsø has become a Winter Disneyland for people that want to experience wild nature, local and indigenous culture and of course, the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights. When Covid-19 came, all the international tourists left and many of the tourist shops and businesses had to close their doors. The buzzing of languages from all corners of the world became quiet. Various birds and animals inhabited the empty streets, this created an uncanny atmosphere in the city centre and made me think of the development of Tromsø City Centre in recent years. What we want it to be and what it has become. When I moved up to Tromsø most of the shops had already moved over to Jekta Storsenter, or just Jekta to the locals, the enormous shopping mall close to Giæverbukta and the airport. You find all the major companies and brands there like Clas Ohlson, Japan Photo, Eplehuset (local Apple shop), H&M and so on. Many of these shops could have been located in the city centre, giving life and supplies to the locals, but instead, several tourist shops and tourist offices providing guided tours, occupy these buildings. This makes the city centre an uncanny and weird place. These shops are not meant for local people. This creates a superficial city centre, and is this what tourists actually want? When Tromsø closed down, many of the tourist shops closed their doors for good. After ‘Lockdown’ there’s been a welcoming discussion about the development of Tromsø city centre and its future, a rising awareness of local sustainable production and local business support. Listening to an empty city centre helped the people of Tromsø, Tromsø municipality and local business to be able to redefine and adjust to future visions, development and city planning. Unfortunately, I know that this is a radical statement from a neoliberal perspective, but the tourists are back, lodging into arching glass igloos, drinking vodka from ice glasses at an ice bar, driving snow mobiles into the tundra, exploring whale safari and reindeer sledge tours with Sami herders. Its authentic, unique, wild, natural, special, different and utterly beautiful, but also fake, a theatre, commercial business and superficial. Northern Norway and the Arctic life is truly special and unique (we should keep it that way, in my opinion) in its close interaction with nature, but it has also become a cliché, a paradox, a parody of itself. I hope this will change towards a more sustainable and slow travel tourism and/or at least be debated more in the future.


Question No. 2

In what way has the sonic environment changed in Norway this past decade?


Try to remember how the world sounded five years ago? Try to remember how the world sounded ten years ago? Try to remember how the world sounded twenty years ago? It’s hard, almost impossible. Try to imagine how the world sounded fifty or hundreds of years ago. That’s maybe easier. Not that you really remember (or you might do), but we all have ideas how the past sounded. Steam engines, postal horns, church bells, galloping horses, fog horns etc. How did it really sound and how has the development of anthropogenic sound/noise been over the last 40 years? Motor and industrial technology has changed rapidly. Digital technology has become a new standard, silent, alien sounding and more noise, all at the same time.


One of the few Norwegian books that I found about the history of the sonic environment in Norway is Norges Lyder – Stabbursklokker og storbykakafoni, by historian Frank Meyer. It’s published by the National Library and Norsk Lokalhistorisk Institutt in 2018, almost at the same time as I started my research projects. Unfortunately, it is still a well-kept secret and I accidently came across it after contacting the librarian Erle Hind at the National Library in Mo i Rana . The book consists of eight different texts, ranging from the common use of barn bells in eastern Norway, from traditions to everyday use, the history of floor clocks. Sound as identity markers and community experience trigger the industrial development of Narvik’s iron ore production. Sound and city planning, the establishment of Bodø Airport and the rising awareness of noise pollution in society and its effect on health. Grønland in Oslo, harmony and dissonance, the sound of urban diversity. Noise pollution, unwanted sound, changing materiality and significance. The establishment of national associations, state regulations and industry standards. The last article is about the Norwegian sound and the carrier of sound in our cultural history, technology, sound reproduction and distribution.

I think the book serves its purpose as a historical backdrop, but I would like a more radical, diverse and urgent perspective. Unfortunately, there’s not a big scene of field recording, acoustic ecology, acoustemology, audible memory and sonic archaeology  in Norway, but optimistically this will grow and develop in years to come. I wish my work and research can stimulate and generate some future discussions, motivation and initiatives to bring this knowledge and awareness further, not only within the field of sound art and culture, but also into the field of popular and natural science and to society in general.


Question No. 3

Can active listening, sonic experiments and soundscape archaeology, help us to understand and translate

the contemporary anthrophony?


In a culture that mostly emphasises the visual side of things, what do we miss when not paying attention to all the sounds and acoustic phenomena happening around us and how can active listening teach and guide us on a daily basis? During Covid-19 and the pandemic, many people described the lack of sound or noise as the most noticeable change. This vacuum led to the subtle symphony of the unheard. Nature was given space. Through my field work, I have been challenging myself to listen and tune into the landscape, to listen to ‘nothing’ and make it ‘something’. This has given me many rich experiences and led to higher understanding of how sound recording and active listening strategies can be used not only as an aesthetic source for the purpose of art, but simply as something that can help us to understand relations between ourselves, other species and land. How we can learn to listen to the world and to use listening as a tool to gain new knowledge and strategies for a sustainable future. 


In Finland and the Barents region, there is some ground-breaking work going on, led by the Snowchange Cooperative. This cooperative consists of a group of scientists, locals, environmentalists and indigenous people. By collecting and using local knowledge, science, and listening to nature as a strategy to reset and restore biodiversity and common land, rewilding, or Villgjøring in Norwegian, is a collectively driven process. It has become a world- wide movement with local and national groups, to help and to rescue threatened land and species. When the Snowchange group was initiating a collaboration with the Skolt Sami people in the Neiden region on the border between Northern Norway and Finland, they asked what would be the best way to restore the river? The locals then said that the river has to answer that. Two elder Skolt Sami were spending time listening to the river and asking questions. They later came back sayng that the river had said that no heavy machines could be used to restore the river. Only manual work”. 


For me, this shows the importance of listening and acoustic ecology, and how it can be used as an effective tool for changing and rebuilding things. Unfortunately, this tacit knowledge has been at risk of dissolving, apart from the indigenous communities, but thanks to initiatives such as Snowchange, some interdisciplinary environmental science projects and even art, wake up and create a new and broader awareness about the necessity of action and implementation, both at a local, national and on a global political level.


Question No. 4

How do everyday sounds (city and nature; noise and silence) affect our physiological and

psychological responses?


Noise pollution or anthropogenic environmental sound is the propagation of noise with negative impact on humans, animals and other living beings. People that have been exposed to high sound levels or are living close to noisy places have more health issues than others. It’s been proved that chronic noise exposure (industrial noise, highways and airports) can trigger psychosocial stress, hypertension, depression etc. 


Fish living and breeding close to offshore turbine parks can get stressed, disturbed and become dysfunctional, theyproduce a variety of sound for communication that may be affected by the noise from turbines. Birds around airports may become deaf. A study by researchers of Manchester Metropolitan University and the Institute of Biology in Leidenrevealed that Common chiffchaffs (gransanger) sing at lower frequencies when their territories are closer to the noisy runways. The reason for this may be deafness at high frequencies due to the extreme exposures to airplane noise. 


Below is a short summary of medical diagnosis related to ear damage, psychological disorders, 

audio-intolerance and noise pollution that affect the human body.


Misophonia is a disorder in which certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses, often in an irrational way. It is also sometimes known as selective sound sensitivity syndrome. Common triggers include sounds like breathing, chewing, swallowing, keyboard tapping, finger tapping, crunching, smartphone scrolling etc. In general, I am very sensitive to abrupt or sudden loud sounds, the sound when people are tapping their fingers restless on the bus, repetitive smartphone alerts in public or people talking loudly into their phones. Do not think I have Misophonia though. 


Phonophonia or Sonophobia is an intense fear or anxiety of loud noises and sound. It can be triggered by sounds such as alarms, fireworks, gunshots, explosions etc. Sudden loud and unexpected sounds can cause heavy breathing, anxiety, fear and panic attacks. This diagnosis is common among refugees and traumatised victims that have experienced torture and war. Those, who struggle with misophonia typically deal with a dislike or intolerance of a specific kind of noise, while those with phonophobia deal with a fear of loud sounds.


Hyperacusis is a highly debilitating disorder and an increased sensitivity to certain sounds. The most common cause of hyperacusis is overexposure to excessively high sound levels. Hyperacusis can result in anxiety, stress and phonophobia. It can also be accompanied by tinnitus. Treatment for hyperacusis often involves the use of a neutral sound like broadband noise, pink noise or music at low levels. By listening to a specific sound at soft levels for a disciplined period, patients can increase their tolerances to louder sound. 


Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present. The word tinnitus comes from the Latin word tinnire which simply means ‘to ring’. While it is often described as a ringing, it may also sound like a clicking, buzzing, hum, hiss, or roaring. The experience is very individual and may sound soft or loud, low or high-pitched. It could appear to be coming from one ear, both ears at the same time or within, as if it was coming from the head itself. I remember once that a colleague of mine, when working as the producer at Rikskonsertene, Concerts Norway, presented me with a tape with different examples of tinnitus. It was electronically produced, based on descriptions from people suffering from tinnitus, but it showed the great variety of how people experience their disorder. Personally, I have a high-pitched tone or several tones that come and go. It is more present if I am tired or stressed. I don’t usually pay attention to it, so it’s not a big problem, but it’s always there. I find it a bit more challenging now when I am getting older, I really do not hope it will escalate.


Listening to and enjoying loud music makes your brain release more dopamine and endorphins. Most of us can relate to the embodied experience of a live concert. The physicality of sound, of being transported somewhere else or just the enjoyable surround experience of a crystal-clear electroacoustic piece (from Argentinian composer Beatriz Ferreyra for example) being diffused over a sixteen-channel speaker system.


When listening acts as healing

The Japanese term, shinrin-yoku, which literally means forest bathing, has become a huge global trend that emerged as a form of ecotherapy. From a Japanese perspective, it means ‘walking in the woods to relax’. It has become a national pastime in Japan, and I guess it has many similarities to the philosophy of Norwegian and Scandinavian ski-culture. The term shinrin-yoku was coined by the former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tomohide Akiyama as recently as in 1982, so it is not as ancient and Zen as it may sound. The way in which shinrin-yoku has been over-spiritualised in the West compared to how it’s used in Japan is one example of how concepts from one culture can be exoticised in another to later give back a concept for branding. Still the benefits of this phytoncide ‘shower’ and walking in silence have been well documented as have the long-lasting health effects.


For me, the pandemic and the repeated lockdown(s) have made me reflect upon our relationship with ourself, with others, with other living beings, with nature and how implementing listening as a strategy, a form of activism and a tool to gain information, new knowledge, and to re-experience my way of doing and possible ways of perceiving and engaging with and within the world. The examples above are just a few illustrations of how sound affects the world, our communities, our lives, our bodies and our mental wellbeing. I am not an expert in this field, but I find it immensely interesting and inspiring how everyday sounds, acoustemology and sonic environments affect our physiological and psychological responses.


Krykkje-hotell / kittywake-hotel outside Tromsø Kunstforening 26.03.2022

E-scooters, Carl Berner, Metro station, Oslo 01.09.2021 11:46