As distance is best expressed through distance, understood in a simplified form as the span between two or more points, drawing was used as a starting point. Using scaled down lines and relationships between lines a number of expressions of distance were explored. An instrument based on linear distance does not necessarily hold directional cues. Whilst there is a direction to the distance between Valletta and Helsinki, the whole goal of an instrument is the notion of articulation, interpretation and expression. Intention is also a key factor in this and once again plays a pivotal role in the understanding of the object. 


As a sculptor it was natural to move from drawing to 3-Dimensional planes. Wire was utilised to make small prototypes of these ‘drawings in space’ as the expression of distance, through intention could and did take a multitude of forms through changes in direction. The basis of the instrument therefore was taking shape. The focus then turns to how does one engage with the instrument and what is the engagement with the instrument creating. As Otso was not particularly interested in pitch, I took the liberty to play around with what the instrument was expressing and articulated. As established previously, each object contains sound, or the potential for there to be sound, likewise every motion contains some form of sonic energy. Therefore engaging with the instrument would inevitably result in some sonic output. That was however not the focus of this instrument. The distance instrument articulates light, creating the image, a moving image. The distance instrument is therefore an implement for composing acousto-cinematic sculpture. Is that a thing? The instrument is played rhythmically, to a certain extent even by ear. In this prototypal stage, the wire prototypes are attached to a cordless drill, and as the drill revolves, new images are formed, both in solid form as well as in shadow. It was the ear that determined the pattern with which the speed of the drill was controlled.


In terms of object the persistence of vision creates new forms as the instrument rotates. On a conceptual level, as rotation inevitably forms a vessel, nods to sculpture’s past as a container, a vessel for an idea. In terms of the projected image, the shadow, the results are equally interesting as the image produced is reminiscent of digital visualisations created by complex algorithms and AI. In a way this reverses the trend of making computers ‘more human’ as the instrument mimics computer generated imagery. Distance can also be expressed through rotational distance, or in Kg or litres of fuel to cover said distance as well as other factors such as CO2 emissions.    


Act iv


The Distance Instrument


On a daily basis we have to make conversions between that are both measured and expressed in different metrics.




If the action to be performed is to press a button…


It can be approached through:


Time (rhythm)

Velocity (Intensity)

Force (Kg, g, Kg/n, psi etc..)

As a reaction to a cue:




: Cognitive (Like pressing a buzzer if you know the answer)


What one learns from a computer is that as everything can be datafied and turned into a numerical expression, every acton and this every reaction, generates other data, more numbers and consequently more ways of looking at things. Distance can therefore be expressed in other ways. It can be understood as the amount of fuel required to make a trip, in Kg or litres. It can be expressed as the amount of people holding the arms outstretched required to cover the distance. And from that one may extrapolate, their combined weight, or their calorific requirements, their age, salary. Numbers are infinite and can be attached to and generated from anything. Furthermore these can be combined and stitched together in an infinite array of variants and configurations.


Working with a musician I found it very interesting when Otso stated that pitch does not excite him. I had been working on a distance instrument to express the distance between Valletta, Malta and Helsinki, Finland. The instrument was based on the distance in Kilometres (km), as on Google Earth. As Google Earth gives directions by walking, cycling, public transport and private transport (automotive) the data (numbers in Km) was compared and contrasted and a pitch based relationship was constructed. From this a physical instrument was then to be built so that one could play and articulate sonically or musically the relationships between the various ways of getting to and from Valletta - Helsinki.



What is it therefore that could hold the distance between Valletta and Helsinki into a structure that can be understood as a sonic/musical instrument? If pitch is not exciting for the musician and music itself is not the primary concern of the sculptor, how could or would the two enter in a conversation about co work? On an artistic level, myself and Otso have a profound interest in rhythm. Our approaches and perhaps motivations are different, however rhythm is a facet in what we do that gels our practices together. After working with Otso and combining the ideas of time as the product of the event, and how figures of life can be stitched together, or are broken down to simpler structures, the reimagining of a rhythm based sonic structure that expresses distance began to make more sense. 

Act ii


(Re)Understanding Time Zero


Time Zero departs from the notion that time, or at least humankind’s understanding of it is a fictional construct. Time Zero as a concept works on the idea that time is created by motion. Each event creates time and therefore time is the effect of motion, leading to the perception of time as a measure of distance, a distance between events. Actions need not be regular or patterned in a specific manner. Time is therefore understood as the distance between one event and another. Time Zero is also intrinsically tied with materiality, sonic materiality to be more precise. 


Every object has inherent sonic properties. These properties which can also be understood as the ‘voice’ of the object unravel themselves as event, actuated through movement. The sonic properties of an object exist in the object at all times and when not actuated lie in a dormant ‘time zero’ state. Which is the object compressed into its material (and sonic) qualities where the physical characteristics that work on our senses of vision and touch are fused together with the aural state and compressed in a single package that we refer to as ‘object’. 


The sonic qualities of an object are an amalgamation between the physical form of the object and its material qualities. Through the act or action the sonic quality is released and time is uncompressed from the object. Movement creates the event and every succession of events creates time. Sound itself is also movement (vibration) an internal movement within the material that balances out the external stimulus (actuated movement). In this manner therefore objects can be understood as entities trying to balance out with their surrounding, however, the object in itself remains the same, it is the state in which it is in that changes. These states force shifts in perceptual focus. The world around still moves moves, however, I can divert my attention towards or away from any given object, moment or motion. An understanding of objects is centred around the object, the movement (act/action) and the moment where how these relate and where they relate determines one’s experience. The notion of a change in state determines that no object can be considered outside of its surroundings both in physical and temporal terms and that when we experience and object, in reality we are experiencing a moment. Things can be in one, none or multiple states even at the same time. A particular state does not and should not exclude any other. 


Therefore one may ask the question is the sonic moment, understood as the material qualities of the object and the unraveling of the ‘time zero’ from the object a continuation, a change in state, in form an echo or a reaction - a balancing out of the initial force initiated by the action (movement)?


Is the initial force, the movement simply transferred from one state to another? Would it therefore be the same ‘thing’ expressed by different means?


Is the sound of a piano note the same as the force applied to play the note? Where does that leave meaning? Is meaning therefore intention? Can one (meaning and intention) exist outside of the other? Is this simply a case of encoding information into action? Is meaning or intention ever disembodied? Can it survive outside of the action, the human mind, or its encoding in the form of ‘object’?

Field Notes


This research was conducted as part of the Territories: Dialects research cell in the 3rd Research Pavilion at the Sala Del Cammino, Giudecca, Venezia between March and August 2019. The dialogues between a musician (as well as the band) and a sculptor lead to an exploration of areas of in-between, peripheral regions of practice in the intersections between artistic disciplines and practice based approaches. 

Material Enquiries:


A Semi-Fictional Recount of a Sonic Understanding of Objects




As a sculptor, I have a very close relationship to the object and the notion of materiality. As a sculptor who specialises in sonic matters, I have been intrigued by the relationship between the object and its sound. The relationship between sound, vision and touch has been a fundamental preoccupation that I explore through my practice. We are accustomed to the term ‘audio-visual’ and the general concept of audio-visuality. Even though it is through art that we have been traditionally exploring the areas where language fails or fall short, the term ‘audio-visual’, has felt always distant from what I have and had been trying to achieve through my artistic searches and researches. Whilst I have been exploring the sonic through manipulation that as far as the viewer is concerned occurs on a visual level, it is through touch that the seen and the heard are related.


As a sculptor I tend to understand everything in physical terms. I think in terms of material, I think through doing and build tools in order to simplify my relation to the objects and processes that I would be handling at any one time. Being a sculptor that works with sound requires a physical understanding of sound. Sound is physical, it is a vibration that occurs in or through an object, and it can be experienced through hearing but also through touch. The sound rather is a consequence of vibration, consequence of touch. 

Act iii


A Fictional Formula for Objects


A fictional ontology of objects where every object contains compressed temporal information actuated through intention. A state of fiction where nothing exists outside of physical forms, or to be more precise where all objects are physical.



Adding time (Movement + Intention, expressed in Force) to a physical object creates a sonic Moment.


Therefore Time = (Movement + Intention) through applying Force





The object therefore is constructed from Matter and Form as well as compressed Time Zero Information.




It thus follows that for a sonic moment to occur intentional Time is added to the Object




The difference between Time and Time Zero is that Time Zero is always present in a compressed form. Time as we understand it, is created through through the event, the intentional actuated movement. 


Act i


Figures of Life


Computers are funny objects. Virtuality is a state that has no physical presence but tangible physical consequence. I have always understood it a disembodied information that suddenly materialises and becomes perceivable.  I am not particularly interested in computers in relation to my practice, but rather in how they operate. Computers are very physical objects, each problem, request or string of information is clustered in groups of patters, that are then stitched together in various patters forms and arrangements, in turn generating (new) content. 


Applying these principles to sculpture leads one to realise that every action, object and interaction is a constant re arrangement of smaller clusters of things/experiences into patters. As artists we then recognise these patterns and give them names. In the Research Pavilion, working with Otso’s (Otso Lähdeoja) idea that these patterns referred to as ‘figures of life’ work on the premise that all our experiences in life are a re-clustering of simpler forms, and that these simple forms are common to all.