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Danish Centre for Rural Research - CLF
PhD defence

Invitation to PhD defence: Art in the landscape affects the sensory conditions of our everyday life

On Thursday, June 22, 2023, you can attend the PhD defence of Morten Frølund. In his PhD project, Morten has investigated how we interact with art in rural public spaces and how it contributes to our understanding of rural spatial justice. In this Q&A, he gives you a preview of the results.

By Camilla Wissing Mortensen, , 6/6/2023

How did you become interested in your research field?

The interest in the rural lies particularly in the self-reliance and DIY culture that often exists there and the struggles over the landscape that take place, for example around the transformation towards a leisure and tourism landscape. The interest in art in the landscape, and the sensory order, stems from personal observations of how I associated certain forms of acceptable behavior - such as lower speech, touch, movement - around certain memorials and public art for myself and for others.

What is the main focus of your PhD?

The main focus of my PhD is to contribute a sensory cultural heritage sensibility to our understanding of what rural spatial justice is. To achieve this, I specifically investigated how people create different sensory spaces and landscapes through their interaction with public art in everyday life.

What is rural spatial justice?

Among other things, the term means that those who live in a landscape or area have the right to be recognized and be co-creators of the framework around their everyday lives. In this PhD project, the idea is that sensory space also has an impact on people's everyday lives, and that people connect different sensory memories, emotions and ideas to artworks, thus creating different sensory heritage landscapes. 

What are the main points of your PhD?

The main points of my PhD are that people create sensory heritage landscapes in their encounters with statues in public spaces. People do this through the ways in which they connect the sensory qualities of the statues and the landscape with each other and with the memories, emotions and ideas they attach to them. In my PhD, I argue that such sensory segmentations-sensory order-making-are essential to how people can shape the landscapes around their everyday lives, and therefore also to how we theoretically understand rural spatial justice.

The thesis shows that different forms of sensory segmentation occur in two main ways. First, around the statues, where the segmentary forces of the surrounding landscape dominate. Second, sensory segmentation with the statue, where the segmentary forces of the statues dominate the affective relationship between the statues and those who encounter them. These influence the formation of social landscapes of community, heritage and action potential, as well as the sensory landscapes of sound or visual elements.

Who are your results aimed at and how can they use them?

The results of my PhD are particularly aimed at those who are interested in spatial justice and the framework of everyday life in the rural environment. This includes both those with an academic interest, where the results can contribute to the consideration of sensory order and forms of segmentation.

Learn more about Morten's research

Throughout his PhD process, Morten has published the results of a number of studies with his PhD supervisor Pia Heike Johansen. If you want to know more about Morten's research, you can read them here:

And it may be those who work professionally with culture or landscape planning in rural areas, where the results may encourage consideration of how the sensory landscape and life within it is affected by changes to the landscape - even what may appear innocent or ordinary.

Are there any results you are particularly surprised by?

I've been particularly surprised by how strong an emotional connection and meaning the statues in the study had for many of the participants in the study. Even with a statue I would have expected indifference towards.

If you were to do further research, what would you investigate?

If I were to do further research in the same field, it would be super interesting to specifically investigate the sensory segmentations and social and physical landscapes that young people create around public art. There could be some really exciting knowledge about the importance of art, senses and cultural heritage for their everyday lives and well-being, and about the transmission of traditions.

Sign up for the defence

The defence will take place on Thursday, June 22, 2023 at 13:00 - 17:00

University of Southern Denmark Esbjerg
Degnevej 14, 6705 Esbjerg Ø
Room E-81103

Participation is free of charge, but due to catering, it is necessary to register. You can register by sending an email to:

Please note that the defence is in English

About Morten

Morten Frølund is a PhD student at the Danish Centre for Rural Research, where he studies landscape-based art in rural areas and its relation to cultural heritage and the sensed landscape.


Editing was completed: 06.06.2023