Sound installation.
Metal objects, mechanics and electronics.
Work in progress. 2021-

Sound art is an intangible art form. But even though sound is apparently invisible, it always has a physical origin, whether it is in the form of a vibrating speaker diaphragm or a comet’s cosmic impact in the atmosphere. There has been a increasing interest in materiality in the visual arts in recent years, while there has been little awareness of this in sound art. In the installation Vardøger, the materiality of sound is the starting point for an investigation of both the sounding possibilities of materials as well as their potential for meaning.

Vardøger consists of a collection of sound objects in metal. This interveawes the work with a central area for human development; metallurgy. The history of metals runs parallel to the evolution of mankind. Metallurgy and the production of weapons have always been closely linked, from the Bronze Age sword to the use of superalloys in military gas turbines. Through the search for increasingly rare raw materials for the technology industry, metallurgy is also the story of global exploitation.

At the same time, metals are basically just a refined form of molten rock. In this light, metallurgy appears as man’s attempt to tame the mineral kingdom. In its modern form, the metallurgy of the last hundred years can be seen as a continuation of alchemy, where the magical beliefs have been replaced a materialistic faith in science.

Sound and the metallurgical history of war are closely intertwined. For example, the bell bronze alloy that was originally developed due to its acoustic properties was also used for the production of cannons. On the other hand, metallurgy is the source of the very special beauty and mystery of sounding metal objects.

The installation consists of a collection of metal objects that are similar to scientific measuring instruments. The sound is activated physically and acoustically by various forms of electromagnetic drivers, and surrounds the listener with a spatial sound field. In this timbre lies a direct experience of the materiality of sound.

Through studies of various metal alloys, both the sounding possibilities of metal objects and their meaningful properties are illuminated. These alloys have on the one hand a political and cultural history and on the other hand their timbre have an intrinsic value.

Vardøger is a work in progress.

Thanks to Thom Johansen, Notam and Hans Wilmers.

More about Vardøger:
Flø, A. B. 2018. Materiality in Sound Art.

Sketches of Vardøger. 3D models: Asbjørn Blokkum Flø.

Details from Vardøger. 3D models: Asbjørn Blokkum Flø.