Work Residency: Maia Urstad

BEK 12.02.2019 20.02.2019


Maia Urstad will be at BEK for a work residency in the period of February 12 – 20th to develop the soundscape for her installation Murmur for Borderline festival at Onassis Cultural Centre (OCC) in Athens in the beginning of April this year, curated by Michalis Moscoutis. 

The installation consists of 15 radios installed as a «Sine wave». Raw material for the sound is interference from radio in different qualities. At BEK, Urstad will be testing out solutions for broadcasting a multichannel composition to the radios in a «seamless sound wave» that moves from one side of the installation to the other via four FM-transmitters. She is interested in testing whether the Reaper-finesses for multichannel sound can be a good starting point for this project.

Recording the FM waves, Tuesday 19.02.2019, Bergen, Norway. Radio FM 88.1-107.

In Maia Urstad’s new installation Murmur, to be presented at Borderline Festival in Athens in April 2019, portable FM-radios are suspended from strings in front of the windows in the exhibition space of the Onassis Culture Center. Visually, the radios shape the continuous, oscillating wave of the Sine wave. A composition of soft, white noise – often associated with radio interference – is broadcast via multiple FM-transmitters: a sonic wave moving from radio to radio throughout the installation.

Sound artist Maia Urstad has used the radio as a sound source and aesthetic medium in many of her installations. Her work often questions how we communicate, what we use and what we dismiss from the sounds we hear every day. Murmur examines soundscapes in our history which are on their way to obsolescence. In 2017 Norwegian Broadcasting and other radio stations left the FM broadcast band in favour of DAB+. The diversity of programme-makers is reduced to just a few local stations, and the FM band appears as a ghost medium with only remnants of broadcast, interference and blank stations.

As new technical inventions enter the market, our soundscapes change character. Typical radiophonic sounds disappear, often without us being aware, as new ones enter the stage. Murmur invites us to retain a curiosity to what is left behind, to what we might otherwise forget or let slip from our consciousness. The installation is an ode to the sounds found at the border between highly present and forever outdated.

The work is supported by BEK- Bergen Center for Electronic Arts in the form of a work residency, and by USF Verftet.

Here is a link to a website about Borderline Festival.

About Maia Urstad

Maia Urstad is an artist based in Bergen, Norway working at the intersection of audio and visual art. Technological progress and communications technology are pervasive themes in her projects, using radio as a key audio, visual and conceptual element, commenting on the temporary nature of present technology, and what traces and stories we leave behind when new inventions enter our daily lives.

She was educated at the Bergen National Academy of the Arts and has also a background in rock music. In 2017, she was appointed as City Sound Artist of Bonn 2017, and is throughout 2019 exhibiting “Time-Tone-Passages”; a 40-channel site specific sound installation based on material from the radio archive of Deutsche Welle, Germany.

Maia Urstad has been an active contributor to the Norwegian and international contemporary art scene since the mid 80ties. She is part of the international sound art collective Freq_out curated by CM von Hausswolff, and a co-founder of Lydgalleriet, Bergen. She has created light-and sound installations in collaboration with artist Hilde Hauan Johnsen since 2007, and together with artist Anton Kats, she formed Project MAKU following a residency at Bergen Kunsthall in 2018.

Her solo and collaboration work has been presented at spaces such as: Bergen Kunsthall (NO), Bonnhoeren (DE), Fundacion Proa (AR), Radiorevolten (DE), Off the Page (NO), Trafo Kunsthall Oslo (NO), High Zero Festival (US), Cafe OTO, London, Barents Spektakel (NO), Singuhr Sound Gallery (DE), Lydgalleriet in Bergen (NO), Visningsrommet USF (NO), Moderna Museet (SE), The 5th Marrakech Biennial (MA), KODE – Bergen Art Museum (NO), Johannesburg Art Gallery (SA), Prefix ICA in Toronto (CA), and Electrohype i Malmö Konsthall (SE). Permanent installasjon i Kongsvinger Festning and Herdla Museum (NO).

Maia Urstad’s website.


Meanwhile in Shanghai
Photo: Maia Urstad

Maia Urstad
Photo: Sharon Bailey

Work commissioned by Bergen Kunsthall, supported by Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union
Photo: Thor Brødreskift