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The Journal of Sonic Studies
Journal of Sonic Studies, volume 6, nr. 1 (January 2014)Marie Højlund; Sofie Kinch: ALARMING ATMOSPHERES - EMBODIED SOUND HABITUATION AS DESIGN STRATEGY IN A NEURO-INTENSIVE CARE UNIT

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4.1 The Concept of Atmospheres

Using the concept of atmospheres as our theoretical starting point, we pay attention to the multisensory stimuli of a particular place and try to understand the affective impact of these stimuli on the people involved, a process we found particularly relevant in the hospital setting, filled with new and unfamiliar sensory impressions. The concept of atmospheres addresses the lived experience of people situated in a particular place. According to the German philosopher Gernot Böhme, atmospheres are constantly emerging in-between subjects and objects (Böhme 1993). The atmosphere belongs neither in the sphere of the object nor in that of the subject; rather, it is a co-presence that exists within the terms of the subject/object engagement. The German expression “sich befinden” and Danish “at befinde sig” contains this double in-situ relationship in the sense that they refer to both being somewhere as well as to how one feels about being there (Albertsen 2012: 2). Perception is therefore understood as an embodied and temporal practice. Thus, atmospheres are not static states existing beforehand in a room, but rather an ongoing and temporal negotiation between the sensing body in relation to others and the environment. Therefore, the dynamic unfolding of an atmosphere is a fundamental feature of finding one’s place and thereby making sense of a place over time.