Future Forest Space: the philosophy of becoming in site-specific generative sound installation

This is my master’s thesis for the MA Sound in New Media programme at Aalto University, 2019 (grade: 4/5). The link to the pdf can be found below.


This thesis examines my site-specific generative sound installation and musical composition, Future Forest Space, through Deleuze’s philosophy of becoming, and proposes a dynamic ontological perspective on generative music, sound and interdisciplinary art.

Future Forest Space was an interdisciplinary public artwork created for the Radio Forest pavilion in the Klankenbos forest in Neerpelt, Belgium, in 2017. Its objective was to develop a new musical aesthetic and function by transforming sounds from the forest into an abstract musical environment that would correspond to and elevate its architectural, environmental and social surroundings; the idea was to create a “space of the future” – a conceptual as well as an actual space between architecture, music and environment that would invite visitors to engage in the idea of long-term thinking while providing a contemplative environment for everyday activities.

The thesis considers the practical realisation of the installation and provides an ontological analysis of the empirical processes behind the work; the focus is on the complexity, indeterminacy and ambiguity of these processes. Brief overviews of generative music, site-specific art, sound installation and the history of becoming are provided as an introduction. The three key elements of the installation – sound, generative composition and site-specificity (architecture and environment) – are examined using both a system theoretic approach to the ontology of becoming and Deleuze’s original concept of it; other major concepts of Deleuze’s ontology – difference, virtuality, multiplicity, assemblage and deterritorialization – are applied similarly. The practical work is examined in regard to its aesthetic and technical actualisations.

The emergence of complex, liminal and ambiguous conditions and processes within such an interdisciplinary, heterogeneous and generative work presents novel and dynamic creative potential, which is, however, often left unaddressed when discussing sound’s relation to space and environment or the function of music in general; it is also difficult to address (for further applications) without reducing it into idealised representations of art and science, the paradigms of which continue to be largely based on static transcendent ontologies (e.g. those of Aristotle and Hegel). To understand this emergence and explore its potential from a similarly dynamic and creative paradigm, the philosophy of becoming offers a system that is capable of presenting actual ongoing existence; it provides an ontological ground based on change, heterogeneity and the inexhaustible novelty-producing process that underlies all phenomena, capturing the fundamental aspects of complexity and complex systems through its conceptual tools.

Keywords: becoming, complexity, Deleuze, environment, generative music, site-specificity, sound installation

Future Forest Space: the philosophy of becoming in site-specific generative sound installation (pdf)