In this project, artistic presentations have been made within what may be considered conventionally established art venues, such as galleries, black box stages and concert venues. Considering the artistic presentations as works inhabiting the expanded field of musical composition the considerations are different for each.

Public presentations serve as endpoints or goals for the process of creating artworks. What I am doing when first dreaming of the figures, recreating them in a computer assisted design, and then extracting what I experience as a physical object from that (imagined) design, it is all preparation for those events. Like many practitioners in the (performing) arts field, I desire to have the feeling of the work having reached some state of completeness and conclusion for the performance. I generally seem to consider the works as reaching fruition (only) during their performance. This risks an utilitarian outlook on the figures as it implies that they have a “purpose” and that purpose is to feature in an artistic presentation. All that comes before are considered preparations. That is not to say that during the construction phase, design and dreaming I am not experiencing the objects and the material I'm working with as capable of inducing what I interpret to be artistic experiences.

This raises a question of lost potential. Does the utilitarian aspect of working towards performances blind me to other possible realms the figures could inhabit? Am I blinded by what they can offer by experiencing the act of creation, and by extension the act of creating the figures as something that needs to reach an endpoint? Am I only open to seeing them as entities with a very narrow realm of belonging, that of the performance situation?

During the process of creating the figures, sounds and other materials, I also experience them becoming works of art in their own right. I see them and interact with them in my studio and experience affect in the development process with its trials and failures, and how it gradually teases out movements that resonate with me. There are countless opportunities for nuance of experience offered by the figures as they emerge from a pile of parts. There is beauty in their first and fragile attempts at motion, of a figure still missing limbs flailing, or a figure, not yet in control of itself, smashing parts of their structure to the floor causing it to shatter. Then it is rebuilt differently and, depending on the outlook, with improved appendage.

However, the use I intend for them, as performers with other performers, human or otherwise, both shepherds and casts a shadow, over the process. Public presentations take place at a allotted time, with an audience present. The goals, necessities and requirements implicit in undertaking such an event serves both as the guiding star of the process, lighting the way, and as a shadow obscuring possibilities.


Seen from the vantage point of the performative event, all the work that came before; the design, the construction, the programming of software, all the choices made, have been heavily influenced by an effort to create balance between possibilities and limitations demanded when assembling a composition within a limited timeframe. Venues come with their own limitations, most notably time. Gaining access to infrastructure such as a full sound system, theatrical lights and increased spatial boundaries for movement such as ceiling height before moving to a performance space is rare. Therefore the process of creating the animated figures, sound and other materials is heavily guided by striving for readiness to be able to make the decisions related to compositional form in the short time available in the performance space.

The choices made in the construction, the preparation of the sound material, the technical solutions and show-control systems, are heavily influenced by the need for agile development when in the performance space. I strive for balance between flexibility and limitations, so that I can quickly experiment with the timewise placement of movement, audio, or other material. The need for speed guides the complexity level of the material. For example, the systems used to control the movements of the sculptures makes use of familiar time-based audio and video production paradigms and software, organising events along a timeline.

The limitations inherent in realizing an artistic presentation may seem like they force concessions. I rather think of them as a framework that gives direction in prompting choices made to facilitate agility when finalizing the composition in the performance space. Minute planning of all details is not possible in this project, instead careful consideration is made regarding what amount of flexibility is manageable as the work is finalized in the performance space. By this I mean that moving material around in time, creating new movement patterns, working with sound diffusion and so on, is a speedy procedure facilitating quick experimentation.

Thus, a lot of the compositional work preceding access to the performance space aims to reduce the number of choices to a manageable amount, so there will be enough time to plot a route through the composition as it develops in the performance space. This guides the construction of figures, materials, and systems.

Choices, freedom, and time

What is the relationship between the fleeting dreams I use as starting points and what may be considered a realised figure? (If we disregard the idea of the privileged mind and rather consider the mind as just another image maybe there is no difference between the image within the image of the mind and the image of the actualized artwork?)

When I experience art, I personally value the affective aspect the most. For me the differences in qualities between the affect I experience when imagining artworks, and what I experience when encountering the works in their physical realisation are not clear. The imagined might be seem like it should be free from practical concerns, after all concerns regarding construction do not really apply, but is that really so when imagination is so strongly guided and informed by practical considerations?

I can point to one fundamental difference in how I experience the affective impact from art existing in the imagined realm compared to what I experience as the “real”: duration. The management and passage of time is as central to the imagined one as it is in the “real”, but in the imagined, time can have very different characteristics. When I imagine art, time seems rather as a thing or an object. Formal development of compositional material in time, movement, sound, light, can be imagined in an instant. I don’t feel I necessarily have to wait for things to unfold. I can see parts of, or the complete, temporal development in an instant. Time is malleable, at least in my mind. It can be played out sequentially at what I perceive as a steady pace like how I experience time when not fantasizing, or it can be something that can be scanned over like the surface of a painting. Similar to how my eyes can either take in an overview of the painting or move from detail to detail creating temporal order in the experience of the painting. Similarly, the temporal development of an imagined composition can be played out in “real time”, or experienced seemingly all in the same instance. It can be quickly scanned and jumped around in, even frozen holding one moment of development still, even if dealing with imagined sound.

Imagined music for non-sound

Musical imagery is the experience of imagining music in the ‘mind’s ear’.1 It is the act of experiencing music heard by the ‘mind's ear’ rather than in the form of soundwaves in air that is picked up by our sensorium and interpreted as music. It is quite prevalent among music professionals, music students and people interested in music generally, from the ear worm you cannot get out of your head, to a composer hearing their notated music for their inner ear. The vividness experiencing music for the inner ear seems to vary greatly, ranging from imagined music being experienced as so real it is indistinguishable from music carried through the medium of sound, to those describing imagined music as clearly separate from sounding music.2

In his artistic research Music for the inner ear3 Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard investigates the art experiences we can have using our inner sensorium. He succinctly points out that even if the potentials in imaginary listening in theory should be endless allowing the listener to “roam freely within the utopia of imaginary listening”4, it is actually not that easy:

It is not that easy to get into utopia though, and we are not trained to do so. Instead, we are often told that it is a foolish quest, and therefore we learn to be pragmatic. We learn to think out ideas and concepts that are tangibly possible.

But why dream rational dreams?

Løkkegaard investigates the possibilities in considering the imagined equally valid as an artistic experience as if actualized.

I relate in two ways. Firstly, it makes me wonder what I could have experienced and what could have been possible both in my personal experience and as actualized works if I were to relinquish the utilitarian domination of my imaginative activities and dream the impossible. The other aspect is that one of my main hopes is that the figures be engines driving mine and the audience’s narrative engagement with them. Narration is capable of constituting reality, and a fundamental ambition for the experience of the figures is that they be incorporated and live both as actualized physical objects and as characters in narratives created for them by those who experience them. The emergence of all these narratives will allow the figures to respond to what they are not by themselves but what they become when subsumed into a multitude of imagined stories.

A virtual outside eye

Do I invoke what other people may feel in my process of creating the figures and the compositions they star in? Do I attempt to include persons other than myself, seeking a shared understanding with them in the fantasies that are my starting points and impetus for the act of creation? Do I assume the imagined audience as having the same or similar understanding and experience of the works as I do? When I dream of artworks I could create, do I in the dream consider how the work will be received, and how that reception most likely will be different for an audience than it is for me? Do I have access to a deeper or different experience of the work than an audience since I have a longer history with the work, and its origin? Is my access to experiencing the work shallower rather than deeper from this knowledge?

Assuming, as I do, that kinetic movement is a central instigator of affective responses towards the figures, at the outset of this project I wondered whether the influence of knowing how something is made, how it operates and its affective impact constituted a dichotomy. I no longer have that outlook. I do not experience any contradiction between knowing the workings of a thing, and the affective response to the thing.5 Rather they co-exist. There is, after all, no way for the figures, as they are now, to hide their mechanistic qualities, and most audiences will recognize that. It is a wonderous mental ability for an audience to be able to experience both that they understand the principles of operation causing kinetic movement and at the same time experience affective responses that imbue the figures with faculties beyond those principles.

I take it to be quite common as a value judgement to consider something conscious and sentient (like a human) as possessing greater implicit value than something that is not. The assumption being that if we detect ‘the face of the other’ in beings that we take to have “a living presence”6 they are of more consequence. The figures have no faces, yet I experience an affect I would normally associate with ‘a living presence’7 in them. Combined with a knowledge of how they are put together and operate, it is clear to me that an affective reaction whether experienced by me or someone else is not precluded by technical understanding.

As a side note, considering the functional principles of the figures as simple is at best accurate only in a select context. What exactly does “simple” entail when discussing the mechanisms driving these sculptures? The sculptures utilize technology in the form of actuators, manufacturing of components, computer code libraries, compilers, material miners, economic distribution systems, that exist within and depend on social, economic, cultural, technical, and industrial development spanning centuries. What exactly is simple about them? The social and cultural conditions implicit in the figures also influences the experience.


Throughout this project I have tended to experience dichotomies often. For example, I described anthropomorphic tendencies as “irrational “. I now see that statement as an unwarranted assumption that there is such a thing as rationality. My tendency was to interpret rationality as something objective and context-free, something that could serve as an anchor point. In contrast I initially understood affect as generated by our chaotic inner lives and in opposition to the lucid representative of objective reality and rationality. Now this seems overly simple. It is not constructive to separate the concept of rationality from perception and context. Interpreting something as rational is perception guided by context; therefore, it does not need to be categorically separated from irrationality.

Implicit assumptions

As discussed elsewhere, when I imagine a new artwork, the ideas have practical considerations as anchor points.

How does practical knowledge of the creation and functioning mechanisms of the sculptures impact my dreaming when trying to conceive of a new artwork? I consider the affective impact on an audience when encountering the artworks as the main artistic content and this is something that in my mind occurs when the works meet an audience. Do I hope or even assume that the affective impact I am imagining when conceiving of a new work, will be shared by the audience in effect imparting the same affect?

In my mental imagery of emerging figures they usually form part of a context. A context of other sculptures, human performers, other artistic materials such as sound and light, presentation format and conventions. There are implicit assumptions derived from these contexts at play, even if I am not particularly aware of or focused on them at the time being. I predict, and then my imagination is influenced by my prediction of what situation a sculpture may be present(ed) within. I strive to create works that do not explicitly address the contexts they are to be presented in, but I am still aware that every step of the creative process in this project has taken the context in the wider sense, encompassing venue, parts of the art field, and so on, into account.

What excites me when imagining a potential new work, happens between myself and the imagined work. I am not consciously aware of considering an imagined audience. There may be a dichotomy between my implicit attitude that the artworks gain their artistic content in a meeting with an audience, since I am motivated mainly by the affects that the objects, imagined or actual, rouse in me. Even if I do not include the presence of an audience in my imagination of creation, they are nonetheless there, represented by the implicit pressure of the imagined presentation context. Even if the audience does not normally form part of the fantasy leading to the creation of a work, I believe they influence the fantasy greatly, nonetheless. In some sense, I take them for granted, they are there represented almost as a heuristic, something I have an instinctual relationship with. In the same way that the context and situation for which the artworks are to be presented is present in the imaginative process, even if they are not explicitly and particularly consciously considered, the presence of an audience outside of myself is implicit in my imagining. My desire is to share an experience, to the extent that any experience can be shared. In my imaginative process there is therefore a large complex of implicit social and practical considerations. One such consideration is my desire to make art that other people, as well as myself, consider fulfilling in some way. My implicit motivations therefore include the gratification of my own desire for a certain type of affect, but also social expectations towards the artist. I am the first audience of my work and bring my own set of expectations to the work.


Developing artworks often seems like a kind of guessworking. I assume that the affective potential that I experience as I develop art, is similar to the affect it may elicit in an audience. Although I believe and partly hope that the experience of the audience members may be similar to mine, I also delight in the knowledge that it can and will be different. There is an experience to be had, unattainable for me, and vice versa. I take pleasure in the possibility that an audience will have an experience somewhat akin to my own, and in the knowledge that it will anyway be fundamentally different.

From my perspective there can be no putative understanding of reality. Still, it is probably best to take the construct of our experience as seriously as if it was putative. What else can we do?

I create points of reference to navigate this world. I invent them because they are needed. Holding the belief that there is no putative understanding of reality gives them a fictional quality that suggests the possibility of a more malleable relationship with them.

To me this outlook has the potential to provide joy and access to a lightness of touch. This text is what it is to me at this moment. For you the reader it is likely something very different. For me this perspective also makes this project about how we can experience both shared and divergent realities at the same time.