When I started working with the research project back in 2018, my initial plan was to look for a location or a space somewhere in Tromsø to present the final artwork. I imagined an empty space with resonating objects that become a part of the architecture. I sought for an interesting place/site with a specific character/story and looked at several places; a small abandoned house on south side of the island, a communal concrete building at the north tip, the abandoned pier at Holt, I was rather interested to find a space within the public sphere than to work with an art institution, gallery or museum. This is related to how I have worked before, even though my background as a visual artist, my work has mostly been presented in other types of spaces/places, like clubs, public spaces, radio transmission, theatres, films and physical releases in different formats such as tapes, cd’s, cd-roms, vinyl, digital and even a floppy disk. Through the process and during the development of the ideas for exhibiting, I realised more and more that I was interested in a ‘neutral’ space, and that it was actually more challenging for me to work within a visual art context, both to make work(s) that would be consider as ‘art objects’, but also to collaborate with an art institution and their apparatus. One period I was even imagining turning my great grandmother’s house into a sound installation, together with organizing a festival with events, home brewed beers and local food. In the end I decided to skip that idea both for personal and practical reasons. That it would be a challenge to get people there and that it would become a happening for the very few. 


The first two artistic manifestations I did during my research project was in the project Redundant Location that I did together with sound artists Magnus Bugge in the old welding workshop at the Academy of Arts, Tromsø and the embedded and performative sound installation In(side) the closet at In The Closet Gallery in Tromsø, a gallery run by Lithuanian artist and curator Vsevolod Kovalevskij.


In the work Redundant Location Magnus and I dealt with questions and themes that were connected to time, space, memory and examining the place, searching for underlying sounds and amplifying acoustic events similar to methods of the Japanese sound artist Toshiya Tsunoda. Manmade and mechanically produced sound events resonating through material. We also found a huge cable coil that we transformed into a huge electromagnetic antenna and assembled it together with an old chair and a lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. This generated really beautiful shadow play surrounding the sculpture that we called Spolestolen, which means the coil-chair in Norwegian. Redundant Location consisted of two rooms with two individual installations that formed into one exhibition. In the second room, a former boiler room that has a five-metre ceiling, almost a bit cathedral-like windows and long duration reverberation. We attached transducer speakers to material and objects that already existed in the space, to a metal plate, that sounded different when I bent it, more beautiful overtones, a stainless-steel kitchen worktop risen towards the wall, with nice percussive delay, a waterpipe mounted horizontal against the wall and a sub-woofer placed in the corner. To create some body and warmth to the sound piece. The sound of transducer speakers tends to become a bit thin and to balance that up and make it richer, it is good to back up with a sub or a nicely hidden Genelec 8010 active speaker.


In the installation In(side) the closet, I decided to create a listening experience with a defined beginning and an end, not an ever-going loop that is quite common in the sound art field, a slow-rising scenario that builds up for approximately 25 minutes. The composition or the sequence of events consisted of a mix of pre-recorded field recordings from the space, recorded with various microphones such as a geophone, contact mikes and a pair of DPA4061, a live sound stream, using two geophones to map the resonance inside a ventilation pipe. This is the first time I used a live microphone stream with a pre-recorded volume curve within a composition. This mend I could control when the input would arrive, but that it would be a bit different every time, depending on the sound of the ventilation, sounds from the neighbours, activities outside etc. I also used several transducer or exciter speakers to play the recorded material back into the room again, through the ventilation system, attached to the roof and walls. When leaning your back towards the bottom wall of the closet, the listener was able to physical experience the bass frequencies transported back into the wall. The sound was then transported into the body of the listener and the border of what was happening inside and outside became blurry. Many of the visitors commented that they never had a listening experience like that before. That it was a new way to listen and perceive sound. I find the notion of bringing in an unpredictable element or ‘the unkown’ into a very strict framework always very pleasing. It often gives surprising and unexpected results that are hard to recreate. Drawing upon the tradition of composers like John Cage and Alvin Lucier, leaving space for the performer’s own interpretation and improvisation within a fixed timeframe. Instead of trying to control everything 100%, I often find the result more playful and alive, when I decide to leave some parameters open. I have experienced this when it comes to giving other musicians instructions to perform my work, when I perform my own music live, improvising with others and when it comes to installing and composing my own sound installations in a specific space/place. 


This is also how I composed and approached the exhibition Dissolving Topographies, my final artistic presentation at Tromsø Kunstforening. After I decided to exhibit in a gallery instead of a public space, I contacted Leif Magne Tangen at Tromsø Kunstforening and asked if they were interested in hosting my final exhibition, there’s no mandatory agreement, but some of the earlier research fellows like Jet Pascua and Juliana Zelwies also exhibited there. Tromsø Kunstforening also hosted in the former building of Tromsø Museum, a good link to one of my works with an archival and natural scientific perspective. It also hosts a colony of black-legged kittiwakes, facing the seafront. TKF consists of two floors, each floor with several spaces. The first-floor gallery consists of two larger spaces and a reception area in the stairway. It also hosts Mondo Books, a book shop. If you move up the old staircase to the second floor and enter the double-sided brown door to your right, you will arrive into the first gallery space, a narrow long space with large arched windows facing the sea and mountains of Tromsdalen. The whole gallery was painted grey from the previous exhibition. First I wanted it to be painted white, but after a while I thought it created a calming effect. So, I decided to keep it. I chose to place the parabolic sculptures in this space, facing the mountain, the sea and the arctic sky. This is also the space where you can hear the voices of the birds from the outside the most. I was unsure if I should mount them directly on the floor, but after some doubt I decided to put them on a platform made from birch plywood. This is not standard material up here in the north, so we had to order it a long time in advance. Here the skillful technicians at TKF (Erik and James) were a big and loyal support. I chose birch plywood because it has a really good finish. It is a bit more expensive than standard plywood though. I decided to use this material for all the installations, to create a common thread and exhibition designing element that bound all the works together, even if they all were quite different in form and function. I have not done this before, actually this is the first proper major solo exhibition I have built and composed. Initially I had planned to use the recording from the bitcoin factory in Dale in the parabolic sculptures, it sounded great actually, the sound of the many hundreds of computer fans creating a lot of interesting overtones and resonance, but it was too overwhelming, too dominating, and was interfering with the other sound installations in the other rooms. In the end I used some recordings from a trip on the coastal steamer on my way to Kirkenes, crossing the North Cape in a storm, the boat that squeaks and rattles, I do not think it is important to address, I rather keep it a bit obscure, I want people to listen and experience, and make their own version of what it is. The catalogue text gives some hints of what has been recorded, the context of the exhibition and what has been researched, but I want the audience to be able to explore the exhibition without a guiding trajectory. That is at least how I like to explore art exhibitions myself, I seldom read the programme or catalogue text first, I go through the exhibition and experience on my own. If I am interested to know more about the artist or the exhibition, then I seek more information, sometimes it is necessary, sometimes not. For me that is the strength and my dedication for art, that it can communicate on so many levels and teach you so many new things, giving you new experiences and perspectives, even without words. 


Playing my recordings through the parabola creates a whole new aesthetic. First I regret that I chose to use them only, there are so many frequencies and qualities that disappear in the transmission, also there is a limitation in volume, before the sound of shaking dominates, but also new things appear. Low bass shows as movement and shaking, this made the sculptures live and breathe in a really pleasing and mystical way. Sometimes this point in between the performed sound and the resonance of the material itself, can offer very interesting results. Regarding the volume, I want the volume to be on a level that the audience focus on the listening and investigate on their own, and maybe even ask questions like: is there something going on over there? Has that sound been there all the time? What was that? Where am I and from what point am I listening now? Maybe I am a tree-trunk listening, or maybe a mountain. If I manage to evoke that feeling and that experience, I am very pleased. Unfortunately, it is not so easy to measure or to make scientifically proof, but I don’t really think that it should be the main goal of artistic research. For me, working as an artist and researcher, to be able to offer that opportunity, and to give people that moment of curiosity and wonder, is enough.


Moving into the next room on your left side, we enter a square shaped room without any windows, On the wall a big board with text and a black and white photo of a flock of birds in flight is mounted. The board looks a bit like something you would find in a zoological museum, but the text offers a more personal take on the material. This room I chose to title the Archival Room, as it implies, the work is based on archival material. It is woven around Fuglesang I Nord-Norge I-III, a cassette series of bird recordings from Troms county, that I accidently came across on Finn.no, the Norwegian equivalent to eBay. The board describes the process discovering the tapes and searching for more information about how they were made, who were involved and so on. You will find more detailed info about the tapes in the log post dated 06.07.2021. In the centre of the room a custom designed bench with three curved arms stands, a bit similar shape to the form of the old reel to reel tape cylinders, and also covid friendly, but that was not intentional. On each arm you will find a pair of headsets, each of them playing a different cassette. I digitalized these recordings, sent them to Digforsk, a University-ran company in Kautokeino. It felt so precious to send off these recordings. I did not dare to send them via post. Luckily a colleague of mine who lives there, was passing by Tromsø, so he offered to deliver them in person. The first result was not satisfying, it was distorted, so I had to ask them to repeat the process. After three attempts, they finally succeeded. I was so thrilled to be able to listen and hear them all at once. I asked Digforsk to not apply any mastering or eq, to have the pure one-to-one recording. When listening to the recordings at the museum, I realised that there was way too much noise. It became a bit a bit unpleasant to listen to after a while. I decided to reduce the noise with some simple eq and this made it so much smoother. The first two tapes number 1 and number 2 document various bird species in the north. On some of the recording you can hear the landscape in the background, it makes me so happy, almost a bit giggly. A narrator's voice interrupts the singing birds and explains the species name in an old fashionable manner.


Facing east (the same wall as the board), a small retro video monitor on a pedestal shows an old 16mm film from the lake Prestvannet. It was made by Arne C. Nilssen, Karl-Birger Strann and Franck Pettersen in 1980. The same time as the first tape was released. I think the film is amazing and provides some visual footage from the same period. Everyone in Tromsø has a relationship with that lake, that lies on top of the island. It has an incredible birdlife and functions as a place for nature experience and recreation. If you turn you head to the south (right), you will see an old wooden cabinet with a glass lid. This I borrowed from Tromsø Museum, it was stored, hiding underneath various exhibition material. First time I saw this, I knew I had to include it in the exhibition. It has a very ‘museal’ patina, that I was sure would work well with the archival material. Inside the cabinet, images from the museum exhibition ‘Eventyrskogen’ The Fairytail Forest, where some of the bird recordings were also used, some bird and some landscapes photos, the three beautiful tapes, an old car stereo cassette player (used in Eventyrskogen) and two publications with information about the bird species in the north (that came along with the tapes). The first tape has a black and white photo of a red-winged thrush in a spruce treetop, taken by Oddvar Hagen. The two other tapes have lovely drawings of a snow bunting and a Eurasian teal, made by Ellen-Marie Bech who used to work as an illustrator at the museum.


























If you turn your neck further to the right (north) a nicely put image window appears, placed horizontally and close up to the left corner. The height is optimal for a normal sized person, sitting on the bench listening to the bird tapes. Intentionally I wanted to project these images with an old dias projector, but it unfortunately made to much noise. I decided to scan all the bird images (42 in total) and make a digital slide show. These images were sold at the museum, companioning the tapes, at least the first one. This was inspired by the reel to reel tape series ‘Lytt og Lær’ (1960) by professor Svein Haftorn (1925 – 2003) that consisted of eight audio tapes of 30 minutes and a series of slides. Haftorn is known for his work as a professor at the university in Trondheim and as an author for the monumental encyclopedia Norske Fugler (1971).


When moving out of the room again, you enter this in-between room with two large arching windows facing south towards a residential villa area. You can also see the old fashionable, but run-down villa that belongs to TKF. This is where the artistic director Leif Magne Tangen lives.


Three tables in birch plywood are symmetrically and horizontally placed, forming one constellation. The tables are fully covered with material, remnants, objects and things. The work is entitled Where does this path lead to? which philosophically examines and questions the notion of the unforeseen. This also points back to the research process itself and unstable ground of creativity. The answer is: We don’t know, but this is also what makes the drive, to move forward, to put things at stake.


Each table focuses on several groupings of various materials. The first one, when fronting the windows, presents plastic, toys, packaging and so on. It is compost in an organic and playful way. The second table highlights different blocks and sticks of wood. Some of them have nails, marks from rust, greenery, fire or other types of traces. The last table offers a mix of materials limited to Plasticglomerates (Corcoran, Moore, Jazvac, 2006), plaster, worn-out bricks, various stones, nuts and bolts, steel wire formations (like insects), bent pipes and abandoned electronics.


All things have been collected through the period of the research project. It highlights the traces of time in a very concrete way, and it also offers the imagination and the creation of new story (history) making. In many ways my work draws on the knowledge of installation artists like Christian Boltanski (1944 – 2021) and Ilya Kabakow (1933 - ) and Guttorm Guttormsgaard (1938–2019). First, we tried placing the tables against each wall, but this did not work, it became only a ‘display of things’, and I wanted to go ‘beyond’ that. With help from director Leif Magne Tangen, we discussed various options and decided upon placing the table as one, in the middle of the room. This made so much sense to me, not only aesthetically but also conceptually. When standing at a distance, gazing towards the tables, it forms a landscape.


Each table has a small piece of handwritten archival notepaper with Norwegian and Sami place names. This are a selection of places and sites I have visited throughout the project. It gives a hint of where some of the things have been found, but also functions as an overarching frame for the whole collection. This work is the only installation in the exhibition without sound. I did not deem it necessary. Listening applies all of our senses and Where does this path lead to? stimulates listening to an imprint of the Norwegian landscape with your whole body and mind, without hearing.


After you have passed the tables, maybe you walk around, taking a closer look at the various things, some people move them around a bit, especially kids, you are then facing south-east for a moment, if you are lucky maybe a black-legged kittiwake will fly by and sing for you from the outside. The first time I was visiting the gallery, the rooms were all empty and there were small hatchlings nesting on the window sill. I could hear their voices echoing in the space, sometimes you can hear the wind howling from the outside and you definitely hear the cars, especially when it rains and during the rush hour. Getting lost in your own thought trajectory, rewinding your focus back makes you spot the cluster of parabolas from a distance, before turning right into a dark space with sparse light. This installation has the name Dissolving Topographies, the same as the title of the exhibition. It is a bit like the names of a music album with a title-song. I also thought it was a really good title for that installation. I regret I did not put a good title on the parabolic sculptures as well, but I was in the middle of a process. The working title was send/receive. I worked all night and finished the composition just two hours before the assessment committee arrived at the gallery. It was a rush. Maybe it could have been entitled something like Transmitters of the Unforeseen, or Transmission of the Unknown? I will be able to adjust that until the next time I exhibit.


Back to the final installation Dissolving Topographies which consists of four platforms (120cm x 120cm) made of birch plywood. They are placed in a tilted diagonal matrix. Each platform is standing on invisible feet, like they were floating, a square spotlight covers the frame of the plywood, this creates really sharp square-shaped shadows. Each surface is covered with fine grained glossy sand. Underneath each platform a bass-transducer speaker is fixed to the wooden plate. Low frequency recordings from the Fakken Vindturbin Park at Vannøya (dated 02.06.2019) are diffused into the different platforms. The final result is composed in the actual space (a challenge when technicians are sanding, sawing and drilling), but I have learned that building and composing an exhibition is not the same thing. Nighttime is generally a more quiet and relaxing period to compose and fine tune low volume and subtle sound installations.


When walking around in the space at a slow pace, you can hear that the sound from the platforms is panning around you, moving in and out of phase, fading in and out of each platform. I wanted to grasp the movement of the wind turbines rotating around in a landscape, the physical, but also psychological effect it has upon all beings. We still know very little of what effect it has upon us, other beings, environments and landscapes. An effective way to visualize changes, is to generate moving patterns, even if they are slow. This is a pretty common method for mapping knowledge and data in science. By playing low bass frequencies recordings from the wind turbines, via the transducers, into the platforms I was able to generate and build up patterns in the sand. This can be read in many ways but my intention was to raise questions and reflect upon the Anthropocene and our impact on the environment. It could be experienced as a microscopic view on a desolate and abandoned landscape in transformation. Not to be too negative, but unfortunately it does not look too good at the moment, with human population rising, climate change, global warming and so on, but as I mentioned several times before let’s calculate for the unforeseen.