Work Space

Sound installation.
Architectural model in scale 1:10, speakers and analogue electronics.
Exhibited at the National Museum – Architecture, April 8 to May 10, 2013.

Neither atelier or studio feels particularly descriptive of the type of work that goes on in the space where I perform my daily work. Both the ateliers traditional production of visual art, and the glamorous associations of the studio are far removed from the everyday life in this small closet-like space. The original meaning of these words however, says a great deal about the daily work in the workspace.

The word atelier is French for “workshop” and is derived from Old French astelier, meaning “carpenter’s workshop.” Astelier comes from Astele, which means “piece of wood, a shaving, splinter”, from the Latin assis, meaning “stick”. Contemporary work with sound is closely related with this craftsmanship, working with sticks and splinters. Sound is admittedly immaterial by nature, but nevertheless the work often consists in processing large pieces of sound into smaller, more manageable sizes. The daily life in the workspace is, however, not just craftsmanship, but equally connected to the structures of sound that creates meaning. The word studio is Italian for “study” and is derived from the Latin studium, from studere, which may mean “zeal” or “affection.” The modern meaning of the word study is usually used meaning “acquisition of knowledge”. The studio was thus the workspace for thinking. Sound is acoustic communication and beyond being just variations in air pressure, sound is also an expression of thinking.

At the intersection of these two concepts, the ateliers craft and handling of the materials, and the studio as a workspace for thinking, the daily work with sound takes place. The tall, slender design of the space appears at first like something associated with the cathedrals of the French gothic period. However, it is the limited area in this worn out, old office space that determines its shape. The space is not dominated by large windows or bright, clean surfaces as one might expect from an artists studio. On the contrary, there is another priority as the basis for this design, namely the acoustic. In order to enable the concentrated sound work, the window surface is limited, and the room acoustics are finely tuned and controlled. All this paves the way for long days in the sound workers workshop.

The sound object Workspace was exhibited at the National Museum – Architecture, April 8 to May 10, 2013 in conjunction with the art festival Oslo Open.

Architectural model: Asbjørn Blokkum Flø
Electronics development: Hans Wilmers
Thanks to: Oslo Open, Oslo Modellverksted and the National Museum – Architecture

Foto: Stig Marlon Weston.