The Stray, 2021. Stereo fold-down recording: fixed-media work for 14 loudspeakers, exhibition at ROM for kunst og arkitektur.

© Andrea Parkins / Norwegian Academy of Music

Andrea Parkins: "Sonic Spaces for the Stray”: (Dif)Fusing Dis-location in Sound Installation and Performance


Final public project presentation at ROM for kunst og arkitektur, Oslo

Exhibition: Diffusing Dislocation: Sonic Spaces for the Stray


Performance: Spaces for the Stray


Exhibition dates: 2-12 December 2021

Performance date: 6 December 2021



I created Diffusing Dislocation: Sonic Spaces for the Stray, my PhD project's final public presentation, as an audiovisual installation designed to encompass the two-level gallery space at ROM for kunst og arkitektur in Oslo. The work, presented as an exhibition, was on view to the public from 2 December to 12 December 2021. It included "The Stray," a new audio work for 14 loudspeakers; two large-scale video projections (Nine Floor Studies and research with two pianos, objects, paper, drawing & electronics), and many videos documenting aspects of my studio practice in situ, shown on monitors of variable sizes. Additionally, 45 drawings, presented as accumulated artifacts of my amplified drawing process, were spread out in layers on three low tables located on the first floor exhibition space.

Diffusing Dislocation: Sonic Spaces for the Stray, video documentation of exhibition, filmed 7 December 2021.

Spaces for the Stray, video documentation of performance, 6 December 2021.

My intention for this exhibition was to create a long duration work exploring the condition of “dislocation” in direct response to the affordances and possibilities of the acoustical and architectural characteristics of the gallery space at ROM. As discussed in this exposition's first section, "About the Project", dislocation has been a central aspect of my aesthetic exploration as a musical improviser. However, its consideration as a concept and condition in relation to space has increasingly been my focus during my PhD studies, as I have addressed within my Authentic Movement practice, and (during the Covid-19 related lockdown of winter 2020) when I was spatializing my composition two captiva pianos within the challenging acoustic conditions of my apartment in Berlin. An additional goal for the final presentation was to bring the elements of my intimate and solitary studio practice into a public space where I could address not only my own embodied subjective experience, but also offer possibilities for others to engage with their own subjectivity: as listeners, as viewers, as an audience.


Initally, I had planned to create a fixed-media audio work similar to two captiva pianos and Two Rooms from the Memory Palace, addressing dislocation through diffusion of sound in adjoining rooms that are acoustically linked. On my first visit to ROM, I learned that the gallery does not offer such a space, which concerned me. However, on subsequent visits and during the three days that were available to me for installing the exhibition, I became more familiar with ROM’s aural architecture in relation to the sightlines of its spaces: the front entry area with its curved wall, the long rectangle of the double-height ground floor gallery from which one cannot ascertain the floor plan of the upstairs space, the rounded stairwell, and the upstairs L-shaped walkway with its wooden floor. I began to understand that ROM’s architectural design as well as its acoustical situation offered ideal conditions for me to create a work with combined elements that could not be experienced as a unified totality from any single location in the exhibition space. This knowledge aided me as I began composing the fixed media audio for the installation, working off-site as an invited resident artist at Spaes lab for spatial aesthetics in Berlin. Consulting at Spaes with composer/sound artist Garriet K. Sharma and sound designer Johannes Scherzer, I set up a diffusion system based on how I anticipated placing the loudspeakers in the gallery, and in consideration of how different types of sonic material would “act” in different locations. Later, as I completed my composition within the gallery space itself, I discovered possibilities for emphasizing separation and dislocation through revealing and concealing loudspeakers within the specific areas of the gallery.

For example, I placed a single speaker at the top of the stairwellfacing its curved wallthat was dedicated to diffusing highly articulated object sounds, derived from my video etudes: Small Objects / Small Gestures These sounds, which to my ears seemed as though they were being performed by “someone,” could be heard distinctly from any position in the gallery, but unless a visitor happened to be in the stairwell, it was not possible to know the sounds’ source, or who or what might be generating them. I also placed a line of loudspeakers along the upstairs walkway wall, and though the speakers were backlit, they were not readily visible, unless one happened to discover them by walking up the gallery stairs. Of course, the sounds diffused by the loudspeakers— mostly drones, multi-pitched feedback, and pitched-down rustling paper sounds— were clearly audible everywhere in the space. Nonetheless, an additional sonic separation/dislocation took place; depending on the location of the listener, only the upper partials of the drones could be heard coming from the speaker line, while the fundamental pitch emerged from the large subwoofer that was located downstairs in the first floor main gallery space. Other sonic and visual aspects of the exhibition included repeating elements that did not link up in terms of scale or timeline (or if they did, they only did so by chance).

On 6 December 2021, I also realized “Spaces for the Stray” as an aspect of my final public project presentation. This was a 30-minute performance, situated within my exhibition at ROM, in which I improvised with electronics, amplified objects and drawing tools, and occasionally "strayed" through the gallery, in order to activate or simply engage with the exhibition's sonic and visual elements. The performance included a introduction during which, clad in jeans and sneakers, I moved with my eyes closed, “playing” a large roll of paper with my body and contact microphones, an aspect of my practice which I have documented on video, but had not presented in a public context until that performance. As I moved across the floor, toward the table holding my electronics, I hoisted myself up into the light of the large video projection that presents my collaborative artistic research with Magda Mayas. I then changed into more formal concert-wear and began the second part of the performance, which, in addition to improvising with my instruments, also entailed switching on and off different sonic elements from the exhibition’s fixed-media audio work.  


There was a very small audience in attendance at the performance, and I was reminded during this part of the performance of what I wrote in the section of this exposition entitled “Studio Practice”: “about moving toward a form of performance that is situated in intimacy ... Such a performance could point to further possibilites for dissemination of artistic research: honoring process-oriented work, deep engagement with materials, and the relationship between I and the Other."