Home Perceptual Geography by Thomas Ankersmit

Perceptual Geography by Thomas Ankersmit

Perceptual Geography is a concept of Amacher’s. It can be understood as the three-dimensional arrangement or choreography of sonic phenomena and their experience. This is also the focus of this new project. Using the architectural structure of each performance space anew, the work will be site-specific and never sound the same twice.

Maryanne Amacher is an iconic figure in the international experimental music world. She studied with Stockhausen and collaborated with Cage, but is mostly known for a body of work that is uniquely her own. She was drawn to extremes; from a whisper to a hurricane of sound. Her work crossed boundaries between science, music, and art; she was a researcher at MIT and her shows ranged from Woodstock to the Whitney Museum. In 2005 she received Ars Electronica’s “Golden Nica”, their highest honor.

Amacher’s research on perception, psychoacoustic phenomena, sound spatialization, aural architecture, and expanding the role of the listener, will form the basis of Ankersmit’s new work. The material will range from tiny sounds dancing around the listener’s head like a firefly, to room-shaking vibrations that feel like a distant thunderstorm. In a time when seemingly everything is consumed via screens and headphones, this is a project that can only really be experienced in the present moment and actual, physical space. Ultimately, the result will be an intense, extremely spatial, full-body sonic experience on multiple scales.

Amacher and Ankersmit first met in New York in 2000 and became friends in her later years. He considers her one of his greatest inspirations. Ankersmit’s main instrument, the Serge Modular synthesizer, was developed by Amacher’s partner Serge Tcherepnin, who also designed instruments for her.

Maryanne Amacher would have turned 80 this year, and 2019 will mark the 10th anniversary of her death. She left behind a unique body of artistic work and sonic research, that – so far – surprisingly few artists have taken the time to develop further.


Thomas Ankersmit is a musician and sound artist based in Berlin. He plays the Serge Modular synthesizer, both live and in the studio, and collaborates with artists like Phill Niblock and Valerio Tricoli.

His music is released on the PAN, Touch, and Shelter Press labels, with a new album ‘Homage to Dick Raaijmakers’ out in September 2018. Ankersmit performs at venues ranging from Berghain to Tate Modern to contemporary music festivals worldwide. He’s also lectured at universities like Harvard, Stanford, CalArts, and Goldsmiths.

His music combines intricate sonic detail and raw electric power, with an extremely physical and spatial experience of sound. Acoustic phenomena such as infrasound and otoacoustic emissions (sounds emanating from inside the head, generated by the ears themselves) play a central role in his work, as does a deliberate misuse of the equipment.

In 2019, Ankersmit will be touring with new music based on the research of Maryanne Amacher (1938-2009), as well as with Phill Niblock (1933) to celebrate fifty years of his work, and new spatial sound compositions with MONOM.