In Situ


music installation for a town square4 performances dayly, 5 days per weekduration: ad infinitum

commissioned by Høgskolen i Oslo

Work category

(a sound installation for a town square, 1996)

Inside the campus entrance to Oslo University College is an open square that functions as a recreational area for the students and an arena for formal events. During the time when the buildings housed the Frydenlund Brewery, bells were mounted in towers in this square, and different ring tones were used during the days to signal food breaks, guard and shift changes, etc. Following the relocation of the brewery in 1991, both bells fell silent; they remain in place but no longer have any function.

In 1995, composer I made a new ringing signal, In Situ, as an echo of the bells that once rang there. In this manner, the work continued the history of the site. The sound material in the new installation is based on recordings of the larger of the two bells, which were edited and processed. The sounds are played back from a computer according to rules ensuring that the same ringing signal will never be heard twice. Each ringing varies between 45 and 90 seconds, and the sound signal is active from Monday morning to Friday night.

In Situ rings four times each day: 08:00, 12:00, 16:00, and 20:00. From 08:00 to 12:00, the ringing signal is brighter, and both densities and durations increase. From 12:00 to 16:00 and 20:00, the ringing signal gradually becomes darker, and the densities and durations decrease. The principles are taken from "change ringing" - a complex and dynamic system for ringing with church bells, developed in England around 17:00. These rules have been coded into the control program for the installation, which has a simple user interface allowing for easy replacement of both sounds and ringing principles. In this way, the installation is constructed as a dynamic instrument that can be used and developed by others than the composer. The composer's goal was to "create a flexible and dynamic ringing system, where changes can happen over time. The system must allow for 'unpredictable' days or months where the ringing sound changes."

The sound is distributed through a quadraphonic loudspeaker system that is also used for playing the electronic fanfare, Festina Lente, during special events.

In Situ, was realized at NoTAM (Norwegian network for Technology, Acoustics and Music).

Cecilie Ore