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Wave

EXPLORING SOUND SOLASTALGIA

The piece “Wave - exploring sound solastalgia” for the Sound Bench seeks to give sense and explore basic affects related to our sonically changing life worlds

Photo of a black water surface

Nature sounds are often seen as relaxing, and understood as reconnecting our minds and bodies with something primeval. Such sounds are used for stress recovery in the fields of medicine and psychology, as well as in our personal meditation app downloaded on our phone. At the same time a continuous climate anxiety has invaded many personal experiences in relation to nature environments and phenomena. An anxiety that seems impossible to escape. 

Glen Albrecht (2005) coined the notion of “solastalgia” to catch affect of eco-anxiety induced in us by global climate change. This sense of loss of comfort in the familiar world and homesickness without exile is particularly symptomatic of our contemporary experience of the world. At stake here is ontological security, the basic trust we have in the world and its rhythms that we normally rely on as predictable and secure. Moreover, the socio-ecological crisis we are going through is also and inseparably a crisis of the common sensibility in our lifeworlds. Although discreet and generally unnoticed, Robert Pyle (1978) spoke in this regard of the “extinction of experience” that increases our sense of strangeness towards the natural world. 

 In his article Sensibilities to Lifeworlds, french sociologist Jean-Paul Thibaud investigates the impact of the socio-ecological crisis we are going through and on the emergence of a new form of sensitivity to our living environment. He argues that we need to recognize the fundamental role played by affects and take note of our capacity to be affected. In this respect, anxiety, disorder, discomfort, concern or distress are some of the moods that colors our ways of being today. It is now impossible to conceal the precariousness and fundamental vulnerability of our condition. Natural disasters and global pandemics are there to remind us of this, in case we have forgotten. From this point of view fundamental affects infuse our relationship to the world, making us feel less and less at home on earth and accentuating the impression that the ground tends to recede beneath our feet. 

Our piece “Wave - exploring sound solastalgia” pinpoints the listener’s internal conflict of something safe and calming, e.g. the sound of water, that at the same time may suggest something disastrous and dangerous - a raised sea level across the globe. In this sense the piece also deals with fluctuating affects through the oscillation between scales—the local situation of sitting on a bench (remembering the sea), and a global climate crisis in the making, as well as a contrast between private and collective experience and responsibility.

Sandra Kopljar & Marie Koldkjær Højlund
November 2021

Marie Koldkjær Højlund

Marie Koldkjær Højlund

Marie is Assistant Professor in Sound Studies at Audio Design, Department of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, Denmark. PhD in Audio Design with a dissertation about sound and noise in Danish Hospitals entitled “Overhearing - An Attuning Approach to Noise in Danish Hospitals” (2017).

Marie is an active sound artist and composer and a part of the bands Kh Marie & Nephew. During her work she has been engaged in designing sound environments and installations for various public spaces and hospitals, including the Aarhus 2017 European Capital of Culture project The Overheard. 

Sandra Kopljar

Sandra Kopljar

Sandra is an Architect and Associate Senior Lecturer at the Department of Architecture and Built Environment, LTH-Lund University. Kopljar’s research interest revolves around sustainable urban development, and design processes connected to design professionals’ methodology and pedagogy. These themes are investigated in relation to design, in artistic research, and in research about the handling of everyday actions and strategies in relation to the built environment.