Focus is an installation dealing with the way we engage with sound in our environment saturated by audio media. It sets up a space for the listener to explore the relationship between the material conditions of sound reproduction and the unfolding of our perception.

Perceptual Thresholds

Sound embeds a multitude of material and spatial impressions. We tend to refer back sound qualities to objects, physical properties or locations of our natural environment: a metallic quality, the hollowness of a cavity, a reverberation characteristic of a certain space, the reminiscence of a location. Nevertheless, in today´s media-infused realm, we count on the characteristics and capabilities of reproduction technologies as they inform our everyday listening. We find it ordinary to hear the sound of a football-stadium crowd through a minuscule loudspeaker or the friction of an intimate cloth filling a vast space in a cinematic surround system. We have learned to decipher the ubiquitous outcome of audio processing tools and artifacts of technology in all kinds of broadcasting media and have attached affective impressions to them. This pervades the way we perceive sound and engage with our surroundings.

In Focus the listener is exposed to the way this engagement unfolds by traversing a room where diverse qualities, scales, re-enactment of heard spaces and interference patterns created by multiple loudspeaker and transducer constellations bring about a particular material impression at each point in the space. In wandering freely across the room the listener crosses perceptual thresholds: the point where a sound turns from a representation of a space to a quasi-tactile phenomenon, from an impression of distance to the intimate presence of a vibrating surface or the activation of a memory.

Focus invites the visitor to patiently traverse the exhibition space by moving, standing or sitting, taking time to explore the unfolding listening circumstances, uncovering the subtle adaptations we perform to make sense of sound around us.

Focus was presented for the first time at Willem Twee Kunstruimte in Den Bosch (NL), within the scope of November Music Festival 2017, November 6-12, 2017. Details in the agenda.


Previous steps:

The first developments towards this work were developed within a residency in Q-O2, in 2014.

An earlier stage of the project, called “A study in focus” had its realisation from February 9th till February 15th, 2015, within “Nearly Not There”, an event investigating the fluid occurrences and interactions happening between contemporary music, sound art and performance art organised by DNK in W139, Warmoesstraat 139, Amsterdam.


Sound installation

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Photo: Milan Anais