Composers / Arne Nordheim / Places catalog

Bekkelaget Sewage Treatment Plant

The Bekkelaget Sewage Treatment Plant was commissioned in 2001. It is the second biggest biological treatment plant in Norway, removing nitrogen compounds from the sewage. It treats sewage generated by 290 thousand inhabitants of the eastern part of Oslo, and also partially from the communes of Oppegård and Nittedal. Its operation is crucial to the cleanliness of the water of Indre Oslofjord (internal part of the fjord) and makes it suitable for swimming, fishing and sailing. The treatment plant filters around 42 million cubic meters of sewage a year.

The vast halls with sedimentation tanks operate Arne Nordheim’s sound installation Dråpen [A drop]. It is an example of art being located in contexts which are unexpected for the majority of spectators or listeners.

The music takes the form of a mass of individual files recorded on a hard disc – fragments of sounds and tones – and a control program, which selects individual files. The control program responds to the amount of sewage flowing down to the treatment system and selects the sound material and the density of the sound according to the signal it receives from the control panel of the treatment plant. The installation is equipped with 21 speakers, and the sounds travel from one speaker to another in accordance with pre-planned patterns, but they mix also with the mechanical sounds of the plant and those accompanying the sewage treatment process.

Nordheim spoke of Dråpen:

"Somewhere within that mountain we should arrange a meeting of technology with humanity. The goal is to introduce the visitors to the function of the place and allow the elements of the cleaning process to define the sound effect. I imagine that drop-like sounds could tell some stories about the immense volumes of liquids which carry on their obscure life under the Ekeberg mountain. The sound may give visitors some idea about the distances and tangibility of the surrounding rock and water."

Sigurd Saue created a simulated recording of the sound of Nordheim’s installation in the sewage treatment plant.

Place Category
13 Øvre Jegerborggate, Larvik Other
3 Olavsgate, Larvik Other
Artists' House Other
Arts Council Norway Other
Bayreuth Appearances
Bekkelaget Sewage Treatment Plant Other
Bergen Festival Appearances
Brekstad in Ørland commune Other
British Broadcasting Corporation Radio / TV
Calmeyergaten Mission House Appearances
City Hall Other
Concertgebouw Appearances
Concert Palace Appearances
Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Den Nationale Scene Appearances
Edition Wilhelm Hansen
Publishers / Bookshops
Feliks Nowowiejski Warmia and Masuria Philharmonic Appearances
Festiviteten Other
Grieghallen Appearances
“Grotto” Flats
Håkonshallen Appearances
Henie-Onstad Art Centre in Baerum Education
Hergisheim Flats
International Bach Academy Appearances
Israeli Radio Radio / TV
Israel Music Institute Other
Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance Other
Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra Appearances
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Appearances
Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music Education
Larvik church Churches / Places of worship
Lillehammer – Winter Olympic Games Other
Lodge Theatre Performance spaces
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra Appearances
National Library Education
National Theatre Performance spaces
Netherlands Dance Theatre
New Music Association
Nidaros Cathedral Churches / Places of worship
Norwegian Academy of Music Education
Norwegian Opera Other
Norwegian Opera at the Folk Theatre Appearances
Norwegian Society of Composers Other
Norwegian Theatre I Other
Norwegian Theatre II Other
Norwegian University of Science and Technology NTNU Education
NOTAM Education
NRK radio and television Radio / TV
Observatory Other
Old Lodge (Gamle Logen) Appearances
Orchester der Württembergischen Staatsoper Appearances
Osaka Congress Hall (EXPO 70)
Oslo Cathedral Churches / Places of worship
Oslo Conservatory of Music Education
Oslo Philharmonic Appearances
Polish Radio Experimental Studio Radio / TV
Quality Hotel Grand Farris Hotels / Inns
“Rendezvous” for strings Appearances
Rombergata School Education, Other
Royal Norwegian Consulate General, New York Other
Royal Swedish Academy of Music Education
Santori Horu (Suntory Hall) Appearances
Storedal Cultural Centre Other
Swedish Radio Radio / TV
SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg Appearances
Teatro La Fenice Performance spaces
Theatre Café Coffeehouses
Town Hall in Gdańsk Other
Trento Other
University Aula Other
Wailing Wall Churches / Places of worship
Warsaw Autumn Performance spaces
Witold Lutosławski Society Other