04/23 Spherical media and haptic interfaces

Talk given at the Teklab-seminar Reclaiming the Metaverse, in April 2023.

I try to connect some of my research interests regarding relationships between physical and digital environments, which can be condensed into digital materiality. 

Digital materiality is the topic of my latest book, and is understood as the conditions that enable materials and actors (both human and non-human) to interact with physical environments, assisted by computers. 

During the past ten years I have worked with various soundscapes that users can interact with through microcomputers. These work range from locative media with limited physical presence to large installations where the physical properties are important parts of the experience. Some of these works are used as examples, towards ongoing endeavours : the telematic opera Zosimos, and experiments with haptic interfaces and sound.

Spherical media and haptic interfaces – 2023

Through the presentation Il try to highlight some potential connections between how bodies move in designed environments and how these movements can be related to sound.

A strong manifestation of the relationship between movement and sound is “Fallen Leaves” by Menashe Kadishman in Jüdisches Museum, Berlin. Walking on metal faces creates strong sounds, and you feet meet unstable ground. I can think of few examples that bring a feeling of being close to other peoples pain. I believe the combination and direct connection between movement and sound is the key. Very different, but trying to achive some similar experiences regarding motion and sound is the installation Auditomosjon, made in 2021: fifteen large creatures that play and can be played. The creatures are the scene, characters and a kind of instruments.


I speak about “instruments” as flexible interfaces., and I use a project in development as a frame: the opera Zosimos that will be performed and distributed across geographic locations withe the Borealis festival in Bergen as teh central node in 2026.

I belive Zosimos is relevant in this context given that we will utilize spherical cameras and spatial audio to document sites and create material for the telematic opera. Parts of the scenography will function as instruments and controllers.

The opera and its scenes will be created through three stages: all the sites will be documented through filed recordings and recorded performances. I the second stage we will design experimental instruments and controllers that can be integrated in the performance. Finally the media material, the instruments and the scenography comes together in a telematic performance.

Senses related to physical distance

I use the term haptics. This is understood as the simultaneous integration of kinestetics (body movement an positioning) and tactility (the skin’s sense of touch). I am interested in the possibilities given by amplification and manipulation of really small movements and vibrations. Haptics are where sound and interface literally merge.

In 2020 I started to play around with building a spherical speaker – the Auditopenta. The idea is to create an environment for playback of recorded sounds that encourage the users to move. The opposite of the sweet spot in a stereo perspective. One work made for the auditopenta was Aquafoni, a work where the sphere and the physical manipulation of objects begins to come together.

Haptic (touch and movement) interfaces 

I use the manual potter wheel to exemplify haptics. One use the body to create motion, and interacting to shape an object. I try to think about the interaction between bodily motion