Research project, ECAL 2021


Phantom Power: Study on the sonic modes of existence of non-audible forces in action

How does a performance or an installation acquire substance? How does it come to matter to the people who experience it? And do we account for it? The research project Phantom Power attempts to answer these broad questions by means of a descriptive study of three public performances and sound installations organised at ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne. Each case has been chosen for the specificity of what the invited artists (Leif Elggren, Arto Lindsay, Marja-leena Sillanpää, La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela) call upon: electronic voice phenomena (EVP), the interiority of sound, and transport through sound. All three are the object of an ethnographic approach using original methodology: for each event, one day is devoted to the experience of performances and installations, followed by a discussion between the public and the artists, monitored by guest researchers (Vinciane Despret, Salomé Voegelin and Juliette Volcler). The next day 1st-year BA students in Fine Arts re-enact the performances in front of the artists themselves. In other words, the chosen methodology offers a collective conceptual analysis on the first day and a collective analysis through practice on the second day. This is meant to help produce a field survey account of sound and of the narratives and the relational modes of existence of the works.

Phantom Power is a research project initiated by the BA in Visual Arts' department at ECAL. It questions the social configurations of the non-audible narratives of aural practices in performances and public sound installations.

Main applicant

ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
Stéphane Kropf (project leader)
Thibault Walter (project leader)

Research team
Visiting lecturers
Vinciane Despret
Leif Elggren
Arto Lindsay
Marja-leena Sillanpää
Salomé Voegelin
Juliette Volcler
La Monte Young
Marian Zazeela 

ECAL 1st-year BA students in Fine Arts (class of 2020-21 and class of 2021-22)

Institut Supérieur des Beaux-Arts Besançon / Franche-Comté

February 2021–January 2023

Supported by 
ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
Strategic fund of the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (HES-SO RCDAV)

29 April 2021: Leif Elggren and Marja-leena Sillanpää 

From 25 November 2021 to 31 January 2022: Dream House by La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela (sound and light environment)
May 2022: Parade by Arto Lindsay 

29 April 2021: Vinciane Despret, Leif Elggren, Marja-leena Sillanpää and the 1 BA AV students
1 December 2021: La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, Yung Hee Choi, Salomé Voegelin and the 1 BA AV students (online) 
2 December 2021: Branden W. Joseph 
May 2022: Arto Lindsay, Juliette Volcler and the 1 BA AV students


10 clusters/microphones of 5 students around Vinciane Despret

© Jimmy Rachez