The Sound Worlds exhibition:

relocating outdoor site specific sound installations inside a large exhibition space

My own solo productions in the Reconfiguring the Landscape project were the site specific outdoor sounds installations created between 2020 to 2022:


  • Remote Sensing on the Beach (Sansing i Strandsona) (2020)
  • Subliminal Throwback (2021)
  • Speaking Spaces 2: Surfaces from Graz (2021)
  • Presence / Nærvar (2022)
  • Impossible Moments from Venice 1 and 2 (2022)
  • Hidden Sounds of West Telemark (2022)

These installations had all been played in their respective public spaces for durations ranging from a few days to a few months, except for the Venice pieces that were played indoors in Venice due to weather conditions and the available equipment.

As a final conclusion to the research project, I remixed three of the five installations for an indoor exhibition space as a multi-part work called “Sound Worlds.” The sound exposition was installed in the Foredragssal at the Old Munch Museum in Oslo, which is a 21x18 meter space with a high ceiling. The exhibition was open to the public from the 24th to the 26th of October 2023.

Outdoor sound-art installations ultimately involve working on someone’s doorstep. Whether experienced as an intrusion or welcomed, it can be a delicate balance of volume, content, engagement, and communication. As artists, it's easy to forget that the majority of the population does not engage in contemporary art, and what we perceive as music, many may perceive as noise. In a project addressing the urban sound landscape, this raises an interesting question: are we negatively adding to the noise or creating a positive experience? With two years of COVID restrictions inhibiting asking these questions of the general public, our audience for the sound installations, as well as the workshops carried out at IRCAM and in Greenwich, was predominantly the local sound-art community. The response to all works had been overwhelmingly positive, yet one could argue that the test group is biased.

Relocating the installations indoors created a very different context for the works. The volume no longer needed to hover just above background noise, and lacking the full sensory experience of the outdoor context, how would the works be heard?

To capture the spatiality of the outdoor installations, this indoor exhibition was equipped with 43 speakers arranged in an 18-channel 3D dome and a 24.1-channel surround array. Although the site-specific installations were played only in 3rd order 2D ambisonics, I had the foresight to compose in 7th order 3D ambisonics. This higher spatial resolution, I believe, is crucial in compensating for removing the original site from the work. I had tested the effect of the full 3D decoding earlier in the autumn in a concert at the IKLECTIK concert space, London (UK). This space is equipped with 18 loudspeakers in a 3D configuration, and the concert was also to launch the release of the Reconfiguring the Landscape CD, which contains stereo remixes of all installations apart from Subliminal Throwback and Hidden Sounds of West Telemark.

Mixing the sound over the two loudspeaker systems

Foredragssalen room plan.

The two loudspeaker systems were set up as shown in the Foredragssalen room plan. The surround array (red squares) was a combination of Genelec 8040s and 8050s. The room acoustics consisted of some prominent early reflections and flutter echoes in higher frequencies, and a washy reverberation, quite unlike the smooth reverberation we hear from good concert hall acoustics. These acoustics resulted in a full but diffuse soundfield from the 24.1 system, which also appeared to change as you walked around the space. In contrast, the dome, which was equipped with 18 small JBL speakers, though not of the same quality as the Genelecs, created a closer and clearer soundfield. When listening inside the dome, you would, therefore, hear a superimposition of the nearfield (dome) and farfield (24.1 system). When outside of the dome, the 24.1 system dominated with a zone of sound activity in the direction of the dome.


The three works ran in a continuous loop lasting approximately 40 minutes:


  • Remote Sensing on the Beach (2020)
  • Presence | Nærvar (2022)
  • Impossible Moments from Venice 1 and 2 (2023)

For "Presence/Nærvær" and "Remote Sensing on the Beach," I revisited my original ambisonics mixes to carefully select layers of sound that seemed most suitable for the characteristics of each loudspeaker array. While this decision-making process was informed by my knowledge of ambisonics, the speakers, and room acoustics, it couldn't be tested until a later stage when making significant changes, other than volume and EQ adjustments, would be impractical. Fortunately, once the ambisonics decoders were constructed, only volume and EQ adjustments were necessary.

In the case of "The Impossible Moments," I played the same materials over both loudspeaker systems, yielding interesting effects that will be discussed further below. Additionally, for all pieces, I incorporated low-volume ambience recordings from the original sites.

Visual information

360 degree photo from Presence/Nærvær

The only visual information consisted of simple lighting in the speaker dome, natural light penetrating the ceiling, the speakers, the bare space itself, and five wall hanging images.


Concerning these images, in collaboration with Henrik der Minassain, who is the exhibition curator at the Old Munch Museum, we felt it necessary to add relevant visual information on the walls of the massive Foredragsalen. For most of the case studies, I recorded the site with photographs taken on a consumer 360 camera. When shown in world-view, these images seemed in keeping with the ambisonics dome and the 3D nature of the exhibition sound space. The five images were large 360-degree photos taken at different sites featured in what the audience would hear.

360 degree photos of the Oslo Fjord in winter (top left), Hvervenbukta in summer (top right), Venice fish market early morning (botton left), Venice Campanile di San Giorgio Maggiore Bell Tower (bottom right).


Sound Worlds 360 pictures in the exhibition space.

View of the installation space with speaker dome and surround loudspeaker array.

View from inside the speaker dome.

Function of the two sound systems

For a space this large, installed with two very different loudspeaker arrays, we are not only considering the effect of the room acoustics but also the time of arrival of the sound to the listener. When inside the dome, you were only two meters or less from the dome speakers, yet up to 17 meters away from the furthest sound being projected from the 24.1 array. In other words, even though identical sound sources for the two "Impossible Moments" pieces were played simultaneously over both loudspeaker arrays, the time of arrival difference in the sound reaching the listener created a deep and enhanced spatial experience.

Reflection on the relocation

As a composer and sound artist, I found the results to be personally satisfying. Despite the challenging room acoustics, the works sounded as immersive and precise as the combination of real and added sound in the original sites. The public had the freedom to enter at any time and stay as long as they wished, and most people stayed longer than the duration of the complete loop, exploring the entire room and spending extended periods inside the dome.


The responses were interesting: individuals entered without knowing what to expect but stayed to relax for extended periods. Some returned for repeated visits, noting that the experience had changed the way they listened once they stepped back into the open air of Tøyen. On one occasion a pair of teenage boys, who might not typically engage with sound-art exhibitions, left saying "coooolllll," which remains one of the most memorable comments for me personally.


In terms of artistic research, the exhibition has generated as many questions as it has answered. These new inquiries centre around what the reactions of the general public (rather than those of the art community) would be when hearing a work placed outdoors, versus hearing the same work placed indoors. While these questions are now beyond the scope of the Reconfiguring the Landscape project, they point towards future research avenues relevant to city planning, infrastructure, health, and well-being.

Sound Worlds poster.

Sound Worlds information leaflet.