Ways of seeing sound

Els Viaene 2022

Ways of seeing sound is a science lab, an installation, and a performance lecture held at Lydgalleriet in December 2021– January 2022 by Els Viaene.

Working on sound materials for performances, sound compositions and installations, Viaene suggests listeners travel in imaginary and organic environments. Through specific uses and set-ups of sound within a space, her installations create and show new spaces within existing ones, either emphasising or making disappear the physical spatial borders. In doing so she often plays with the notions of seeing and hearing, and how the perception of what we see and hear are interfered with each other.


    who are you?

    you are a sound

    you manifest yourself through vibration

    you carve the air but you leave no visible trace

    you are everywhere and nowhere

    you are my most important working material, yet i have never seen you

    maybe it is this mystery that makes our connection so strong

    you are a matter that i have to catch and mold by the use of digital recorders, computers and other objects that i place inbetween you and me

    it creates a distance

    how can i restore this distance?

    what would be the most direct way to look at you?

    to grasp you?

    will you be different?

    will i see you differently?


    sound unraveled in motions and vibrations.

    in giving shape to sound we create tangible artefacts out of the temporary flow. 

    we create a corresponding space in which we can see certain aspects of sound at work.

    but maybe these sonic shapes are only mirrors of our own reflections on sound.

    maybe there is no complete picture of what sound is. 

    it seems as if you touch one part of the big question, the whole web starts to vibrate.


    in my quest to understand sound, i entered this world of science.

    for me working with sound has always been an intuitive process, but here everything has to be very precise.

    i am used to set up, try, fail, try again and in all this messiness i hope that something beautiful can start to exist.

    still … the more i dive into this world, the more i am convinced that we use the same power of imagination.

    we both try to find and create something that is not there yet.


    what am i trying to measure?

    sound is not my matter of facts, it is my matter of imagination.

    setting up probe after probe, i’m afraid that i will de-spell the strength of my own working material.


    this sound is writing the story of its own motion.

    materialisation of time-in-movement.

    at what point does matter become a place?

    have you arrived already?

    what do you see?

    what do you hear?


    maybe i’m just trying to create the right circumstances for sound to determine it’s own shape in time

    each sound adding another layer of time and space

    leaving a trace in our memory


   not only i who sculpt and mold you had this urge to see you.

   it seems like we artists and scientists have many things in common.

   through observing and experimenting we want to understand what is intruiging us.

   i have seen a glimpse of you.

   but of course you are much more than these moving lines projected on screens.

   maybe my quest after all is not about who you are, but who you are to me.

   maybe i know less now, but it has opened up so much more.

   our journey is never finished.

   every trial, every failure, leads to a new experiment, like an endless swirling stream.