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Knut Olaf Sunde: Site Awareness in Music

Sunde's study comprises three space-oriented works. His aim is to shed light on the the context's influence on our perception of music.

Field of study: Artistic Research (Composition)


The project argues that a sensation of another place is vital to the recognition of unfamiliar perspectives. Space and sound are inextricably connected. The surroundings and context are central to how we perceive external stimuli, such as images, events, history, ideas or music. The brain interprets and make choices by association, based on what the body perceives and based on previous knowledge and experience. How humans listen, hear, see, perceive, interpret and react to our surroundings are based on our cognitive structures.

An unformatting of society is needed.

A risk makes the body and brain aware and alert. Adrenalin is released to the blood, enabling the organism to sudden and severe effort. Risk implies something unestablished, uncertain, a danger, something unknown. Risk implies the possibility of failure and ultimately death. Risk increase anxiety and excitement, enabling the alertness needed to maneuver away from or solve problems. When something is at stake, interest is set into play. The unknown is by its very nature beyond the body’s experience.

The project is about increasing the awareness of the situational and contextual implications of music. This is enquired through three works. For each site or situation Sunde works with, he analyzes its characteristics, such as acoustical conditions, the relations of the place to its surroundings, the shape of the landscape and historical or political context. He tries to create immersive, audiovisual projects that are connected to a certain place. He aims to involve qualities and characteristics from the place, shaping a conversation, putting something at stake. Sunde conceives a music activating the place, making created situations. He does this because there is a close link between memory, comprehension and place.

The sense of place and ability to navigate is essential to our memory and bodily existence in the world.


The full title of the project is Site Awareness in Music - reontextualizing a sensation of another place.

The study is documented in the Research Catalogue

Øy i mørket med trær
Himdalen performance in 2018. Photo: Henrik Bekk.

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Published: Oct 17, 2016 — Last updated: Mar 9, 2023