In Sideral, Marcela Amas and Gilberto Esparza challenge the perception of space as silent. As iron meteorites make their journey through space, the extreme events they pass through are recorded as changes in their magnetic field – a kind of log, by which scientists can understand where the meteorite has come from. Amas and Esparza go one step further: here, an 82kg chunk of space debris named Boxhole, found in Australia in 1937, is cradled in spidery wooden sensor-limbs that ‘read’ the meteorite and generate an eerie, modulating music that’s also a kind of storytelling, the account of an almost unimaginable journey through the void.

Sideral is a collaboration with sound artist and musician Danial Llermaly & Diego Liedo Lavaniegos. The first realisation of the work was produced in 2016 by singuhr – projects berlin

Supported by: Anglo Arts, the cultural department of The Anglo Mexican Foundation A.C.,CMMAS (Centro Mexicano para la Música y las Artes Sonoras), the Embassy of Mexico United Kingdom & Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID)

Boxhole was loaned courtesy of the Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London


Five hours long and over seven years in the making, Matthew Barney’s epic 2014 film RIVER OF FUNDAMENT received a rare screening at Sonica 2017. Loosely based on Norman Mailer’s novel of the Egyptian pharaohs, Ancient Evenings – a book Barney loves, despite its critical slating – the film explores themes of decay and reincarnation, of digestion and consumption, of the end of one kind of life and the birth of another. With a cast that includes Maggie Gyllenhaal, Deborah Harry, Salman Rushdie, and Barney himself, and music by celebrated composer Jonathan Bepler, Barney’s film is ambitious, surreal, scatological, satirical, confrontational, awe-inspiring – and always surprising.

A film by: Matthew Barney & Jonathan Bepler
Written and directed by: Matthew Barney
Director of photography: Peter Strietmann
Edited by: Katherine McQueery
Music composed & directed by: Jonathan Bepler
Production design: Matthew D. Ryle
Producer: Mike Bellon
Produced by: Matthew Barney & Laurenz Foundation

Cast includes: David Amram, Matthew Barney, Chief Dave Beautiful Bald Eagle, Ellen Burstyn, Dick Cavett, Madyn G. Coakley, Paul Giamatti, Milford Graves, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Deborah Harry, Joan LaBarbara, Fran Lebowitz, John Buffalo Mailer, Jonas Mekas, Aimee Mullins, Stephen Payne, Eugene Perry, Herbert Perry, Salman Rushdie, Elaine Stritch, James Toback, Lawrence Weiner

© Matthew Barney
Music © Jonathan Bepler, 2014

Production Still
Chris Winget
© Matthew Barney, Courtesy Gladstone Gallery,
New York and Brussels

Sonica Club Night

Tundra (Lakker) and XFRMR (Robbie Thomson)

LAPS: Alicia Matthews (SUE ZUKI, Organs of Love) & Cassie Ezeji (Golden Teacher)

VAJ.Power: Holly McGowan & Sofya Staune

Sonica presented a one-off club night at the Art School, featuring DJ sets, video projections from local VJs, and live shows from two of the festival’s foremost audiovisual acts.

Robbie Thompson is no stranger to the Glasgow club scene, having previously played at Optimo. In XFRMR, he harnesses the power of the Tesla coil, the 19th century invention that first made electricity visible, to fuse sound and light in an unforgettable spectacle.

Lakker’s Tundra mixes eerily beautiful vocals and electronica that conjures up glaciers, tectonic shifts and vast open spaces scoured by extreme weather. For their live show, visuals pulse and pattern in response to their propulsive, pulsating dance music.

Titan: A Crane is a Bridge

High over Clydebank, in the wheelhouse at the top of the Titan Crane, Michael Begg presents a site-specific installation that transforms the iconic structure into both musical inspiration and musical instrument. The crane symbolises past and future, both a monument to an industrial age of unprecedented feats of engineering and exploration and, today, signals a prospective epoch of ambition, imagination and outgoingness. In Begg’s piece, the crane and its environment become the basis for a work for electronics, cables, strings and breaths, playing on the material of the structure and the voice of the wind that sings around the elevated wheelhouse.

A Cryptic commission for Sonica 2017

Supported by: West Dunbartonshire Council

Siren Servers

In the Victorian catacombs beneath the Merchant City, in a building which housed one of the city’s first print shops, lurks a siren summoning us towards the post-print age. Donning a VR helmet, visitors make their way through a series of immersive digital environments – designed in a unique collaboration between The Butler Brothers, ISOdesign, Giles Lamb and Numbercult – that draw from their makers’ background in 3-D imaging, games design, soundtrack composition, neuroscience and more. Reacting to human movement, each environment becomes a spectacular vista, by turns playful and mesmerising: visions of an alluring future that’s coming closer with every moment.

All sound, graphics, animation and programming © the artists


The instantaneous transmission of information – and the possibility that soon people, as well as data, will be available everywhere simultaneously – inspired OMNIS, an immersive installation by Montréal-based Maotik. Drawing on optical illusions and other visual effects, Maotik gradually fills the darkened space with twisting, writhing patterns of light that generate an effect of expanding depth and of unending travel. As a glittering soundtrack unfolds, courtesy of composer Metametric, the dimensions of the space seem to dissolve and the viewer, too, might feel themselves destabilised as time and space seem to merge into one.

Presented as part of a Full Dome Triple Bill with The Macula’s Hidden Towers & Johnny Knox’s Remote Sense

Digital artist: Maotik aka Mathieu Le Sourd
Composer: Metametric

Supported by: the Canadian High Commission & Québec Government Office in London

Monoid mk II

We’re used to certain types of musical technology looking and acting a certain way. Robert Pravda’s Monoid mk II considers the stereo speaker – usually a circular arrangement that vibrates with the sound passing through it – and reimagines this means of transmission as something like a square gyroscope whose concentric metal structures spin as it turns around three 360° axes. Fittingly, Pravda has chosen to play a recording by experimental poet Brion Gysin – inventor of the cut-up method beloved of William Burroughs and David Bowie – that is broadcast by and fed back through through his own piece of deconstructed, reimagined technology.

Supported by: the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands & South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture

Táifēng and the Motorway Saint

Randomness and order collide in a new work by Mark Lyken. The first of two films, playing simultaneously, documents the overlooked areas and unheard voices of three Taiwanese cities. Long contemplative shots of locations at rest are intercut with footage of the bustle of everyday urban life. Field recordings, and the responses of previous viewers of Lyken’s film, mingle with an improvised soundtrack from Tainan’s 12 Dog Cycle, as the film moves towards a climax in which Taiwan is struck by natural disaster. On the second screen, a more benign, equally mysterious natural process is shown in close detail: the bubbling and steaming of a jade-green geothermal spring, full of the potential to erupt at any moment.

Camera, Sound & Edit: Mark Lyken
Original Music: <12 Dog Cycle & Mark Lyken
Graphic Design: Tiernan Crilley
Colour Grading: Afternoon Pictures
Audio Mastering: EARLabs Studio
Subtitles: Ting Shuo Studio

A Cryptic commission for Sonica 2017

Supported by: British Council Taiwan, Taipei Artist Village, Ting Shuo Hear Say Studio, Hugh Fraser Foundation & Hope Scott Trust

The Megaphone Project

For The Megaphone Project, Australian-based Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey filled Glasgow Science Centre and the bandstand of Kelvingrove Park with bright red megaphones of different shapes and sizes. Investigating how people listen and communicate in public spaces, The Megaphone Project allows visitors to play with the instruments, shout and listen through them, lift and reposition them, or simply to listen to the sounds, generated by a wireless audio network – from jaunty musical pieces and the buzz of bees, to a thrilling chorus when disembodied voices speak as one through all the megaphones in unison.

Supported by: the Australian Council for the Arts and Glasgow UNESCO City of Music

Archifon IV

One part video game, one part holographic display, one part gigantic musical instrument: Floex and Initi bring the interior of the University of Glasgow’s Memorial Chapel to life as you’ve never seen it before. Elements of the architecture are primed to respond to the beams from laser pointers handled by the audience: statues might suddenly sing when light strikes them, or ornamental details might spring to life and writhe across the walls. The excitement is in finding and activating each of the hidden objects, in an audiovisual Easter egg hunt – while also discovering the overlooked architectural details of one of the city’s great buildings.

A Cryptic Commission for Sonica 2017

Part of the Czech Season in Scotland, supported by: Czech Cultural Centre, London


Fusing scientific research with ancient Japanese custom, Nelo Akamatsu uses the principle of geomagnetism – chijiki – to explore a traditional form of sound sculpture, suikinkutsu. Traditionally the sound, amplified through bamboo tubing, of water dripping into a buried clay pot, Akamatsu’s Chijikinkutsu employs the equally delicate sound of electromagnetised needles gently striking the walls of glass vessels filled with water as they respond to the invisible influence of geomagnetic forces. The subtle sound of this micro-tide soothes as it glimmers and tinkles just at the threshold of hearing.

Concept, Space Design, Hardware Development, Sound-Sequence Programming: Nelo Akamatsu

Winner of the prestigious Golden Nica in the Sound Art category at Prix Ars Electronica 2015

Supported by: The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation & The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

The Extended Tension

Mexican composer and artist Manuel Rocha Iturbide deconstructs musical instruments to investigate what makes them tick, and open up new possibilities for making music from them. Two electric guitars hang in space, each suspended by its strings which extend outwards across the space in all directions, as though the guitar is a dissected specimen. Plucking, stroking or tapping any of these tautened, elongated strings makes the guitars vibrate and generates long, unexpected, resonant tones, picked up and amplified to fill the space. Visitors try out the guitars for themselves, discovering a new twist on the idea of playing an instrument.

Supported by: Anglo Arts, the cultural department of The Anglo Mexican Foundation A.C.,CMMAS (Centro Mexicano para la Música y las Artes Sonoras), the Embassy of Mexico United Kingdom & Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID)


The Pilbara is one of Australia’s sparsest, most remote outback territories. The native peoples lived the same way of life for a thousand years – until they were confronted with the invasion of Western science and technology. Lynette Wallworth’s Collisions explores the impact of this meeting of vastly different cultures, through the story of indigenous elder Nyarri Nyarri Morgan and his encounter in the 1950s with nuclear technology. 360° filming and immersive sound allows viewers to take a virtual journey to the most remote outback, 1500 miles from the nearest city, and hear Morgan’s story.

At the 38th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards, Collisions received an Emmy Award for Outstanding New Approaches: Documentary.

Director: Lynette Wallworth
Featuring: Nyarri Nyarri Morgan & Curtis Taylor
Narration / storytelling:
Lynette Wallworth & Curtis Taylor
Executive producers: Diana Barrett, Sandy Herz, Gigi Pritzker & Cori Shepherd Stern
Producers: Nicole Newnham & Lynette Wallworth
Director of photography: Patrick Meegan
Editor: Karryn de Cinque
Virtual Reality production partner: Jaunt VR
Jaunt VR producer & VFX supervisor: Patrick Meegan
Associate producers: Nola Taylor & Gabrielle Sullivan
Line producer: Belinda Mravicic
Sound recordist: Liam Egan
Sound design: Tom Myers & Skywalker Sound
Visual effects: WhiskeyTree, Jossie Malis & Alex Cherney
Post production producer: Grace Raso
Colour grade: MPC / Technicolor

Supported by: Australia Council for the Arts; ADL Film Fest; Ford Foundation (JustFilms); The Fledgling Fund; Jaunt Studios; Pritzker Foundation & Sundance Institute

Buzz Aldrin Syndrome

Buzz Aldrin syndrome is the term, named for the great astronaut, for the feeling of melancholy that can follow some unrivalled achievement. For this immersive, multi-sensory installation, French artists Quentin Euverte and Florimond Dupont are inspired by real-life space exploration and its most famous fictional depictions. Classic science fiction movie soundtracks are ‘translated’ into electrical currents that induce change in bottled chemical solutions. Projections and live soundtracks are generated using the contents of these bottles, the illumination of their processes matching and blending with footage from films and the Hubble telescope. Fiction and reality, the micro- and the macrocosmic all combine in a mashup of the high-tech and the improvised lash-up.

Supported by: Fluxus Arts Projects, Fluxus Foundation and the Alliance Française


For anyone who still thinks vinyl is a dead format, here’s evidence that it’s only ever resting: a portable record player complete with 12-inch record lies in a chair as if abandoned. Though it mostly lies inert, sometimes spontaneously the record starts to turn, making a noise that sounds suspiciously like… snoring? As science investigates the potential for new technology to gain a kind of life, here’s one of our most recognisable and venerable pieces of musical equipment that Manuel Rocha Iturbide casually suggests has been a living entity all along.

Supported by: Anglo Arts, the cultural department of The Anglo Mexican Foundation A.C., CMMAS (Centro Mexicano para la Música y las Artes Sonoras), the Embassy of Mexico United Kingdom & Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID)


Sonica’s Artist in Residence, Japan’s Nelo Akamatsu, developed a brand new work, playing on one of our most common natural phenomena: the vortex. From weather patterns to the turn of electrons, the turn of galaxies to the water swirling down the plughole after we wash our hands, the vortex is everywhere. In this calming, meditative installation, each of Akamatsu’s three purpose-built glass beakers contains a continuous vortex, controlled by magnets, that whirls unceasingly in water. Visitors watch the endless undulations through the fragile vessels, and listen to each subtle, ever-changing rush and bubble through each container’s speaker-like mouth.

Concept, Design, Hardware Development, Sound-Sequence Programming: Nelo Akamatsu

A Cryptic commission for Sonica 2017

Supported by: The Lighthouse, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation & The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation


Blurring the conventional boundaries between audience and performer, venue and stage, Mathis Nitschke’s short opera Viola places its audience in the window of a shop, and turns the whole of the outside world into a stage. While audience members become an object of curiosity for passing pedestrians, one of the members of the public goes almost unnoticed – until she starts to sing. The shop windows become huge glass loudspeakers, transmitting Viola’s plaintive song to the viewers within, yet also preventing her from being able to make the connection she seems so ardently to desire.

Libretto: Thomas Jonigk
Composition/Director: Mathis Nitschke
Viola (alto voice): Martina Koppelstetter
Viola recording: Klaus-Peter Werani
Voice recording: Ursula Berlinghof

Supported by: Goethe-Institute, Glasgow


A new audiovisual work from Paris-based Alex Augier places the artist at the centre of four gigantic screens, where he uses a modular synthesiser to produce music ranging from minimalist washes of sound to pummelling, skittering beats. Broadcast through four speakers, the soundscape surrounds and immerses the viewer. On the screens, patterns of light are generated live in response to the music – drifting woozily at quieter moments, then bursting into frantic activity as the music gathers pace. A shadowy figure lurking in the deep space at the heart of these layers of light, Augier is part-musician, part-magician.

Presented as part of an AV Triple Bill with Paul Jebanasam & Tarik Barri’s Continuum & Martin Messier’s Field

Concept, sound design, music, visuals, computer programming: Alex Augier
Production: Arcadi, Stereolux
Manufacturing: Wilfrid Jaunatre, Remy Martinez

Supported by: La Muse en Circuit


All around us, invisible and inaudible electromagnetic forces are at work. With Field, Martin Messier allows us to see and hear these forces in real time: using microphones attuned to electromagnetic flow, he turns the ebb and flow of invisible fields into audible signals. ‘Playing’ two connection patches, Messier plugs and unplugs various inputs, adding and subtracting layers of sound to generate music that responds to the real-time flux of the EM fields, while his projected shadow looms enlarged behind him in Frankensteinian silhouette as he brings to life the unseeable.

Presented as part of an AV Triple Bill with Paul Jebanasam & Tarik Barri’s Continuum & Alex Augier’s _nybble_

Concept, audiovisual composition, programming and performance: Martin Messier
Interface: Thomas Payette
Technical design: Thomas Payette, Maxime Bouchard, Frédérique Folly
Production: 14 lieux

Martin Messier is represented by: Marc Langlois, La Chasse Galerie, Montréal

Supported by: the Canadian High Commission & Québec Government Office in London


Experimental electronic musician Paul Jebanasam’s 2016 album Continuum is an exploration of the mystery and power of the universe – by turns awe-inspiringly melodic and patterned, and blisteringly chaotic. Visual accompaniment from Robert Henke and Thom Yorke collaborator, the Netherlands’ Tarik Barri brings Continuum alive in a mesmerising live performance: where the music suggests volcanic eruptions, tectonic movements or the descent of angelic choirs, the metamorphosing visuals – produced live by the artist – fill the otherwise blacked-out room with dazzling flares, flickers and cosmic starbursts, taking the viewer on a thrilling, galactic-scale journey.

Presented as part of an AV Triple Bill with Martin Messier’s Field & Alex Augier’s _nybble_

Musician: Paul Jebanasam
Visuals & programming: Tarik Barri

Supported by: The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Remote Sense

Remote Sense delves deep into our ancient past, tracing the story behind some of the world’s earliest art forms. Jonny Knox’s inspiration is the altered states of consciousness that ancient artists employed to visualise complex geometries and abstractions. The viewer is taken on a journey from the ancient past – through ethereal three-dimensional scans of real-life caves that were once painted in equally immersive vistas – to futuristic renderings of perspective and vanishing points. Jonny Knox’s background in music, architecture and computer graphics informs this expedition through the centuries, accompanied by Darien Brito’s haunting, restless soundtrack.

Presented as part of a Full Dome Triple Bill with Maotik’s OMNIS & The Macula’s Hidden Towers

Hidden Towers

Inspired by the writing of William Gibson, ‘the father of cyberpunk’, whose dystopian novels of the 1980s and 1990s (including Neuromancer and All Tomorrow’s Parties) now seem like documents that have both predicted and informed our present day, Czech studio, The Macula, present an audiovisual journey through cyberspace. An ominous drone grows as the viewer is sent on a twisting, turning 360° trip through kaleidoscopic virtual space, where just as patterns seem to become identifiable, they shift and warp once more: clouds of particles give way to infinitely complex geometrics, mysterious mechanisms and star-filled spaces.

Presented as part of a Full Dome Triple Bill with Maotik’s OMNIS & Johnny Knox’s Remote Sense

Concept: Jan Sima
Visual artists: Jan Sima, Amar Mulabegovic, Petr Foltera
Music & Sound FX: Ondrej Skala
Producer: Martin Posta
Executive Producer: Lenka Jiroutova

Part of the Czech Season in Scotland, supported by: Czech Cultural Centre, London


Exploring the boundaries where music and language overlap, Nicola L. Hein and Lukas Truniger use hybrid instruments – constructed from drum-skins and electronic components – as devices to turn written texts into pulses of light and percussive sound. As each machine translation emerges, the network of instruments starts to share the texts, transforming written material into aesthetic, visual and sonic patterns, for the performers to further interact with. Extrapolating from the example of the African talking drum, Membranes builds up an altogether new kind of tone language, constantly shifting and adapting itself before the viewer and performers alike.

Supported by: The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, DICREAM; Le Fresnoy – studio des arts contemporains; Sibylle Kalkhof-Rose foundation / Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.

Dear Esther Live

Blurring the boundaries between video game, ghost story and film screening, Dear Esther invites the viewer to a virtual Hebridean island of derelict buildings, forests and catacombs. Where are all the people? Why have we been brought here? And who is Esther? Putting familiar first-person gaming techniques to new use, developer The Chinese Room replaces shocks and scares with wonder and discovery. A spoken-word narrative, and the live soundtrack composed by Bafta winner Jessica Curry, respond differently to each individual playthrough of the game, meaning that no two audiences have the same experience of their visit to the island.

Game: The Chinese Room
Composer: Jessica Curry
Producer: Laura Ducceschi
Conductor: Thomas Blunt
Electronics: Scanner
Gamer: Thomas McMullan
Narrator: Ferdy Roberts
Soprano: Joanna L’Estrange
Pianist: Iain Farrington
Cello: Chris Worsey
Violin: Natalia Bonner
Violin: Tom Pigott-Smith
Viola: Rachel Robson

Supported by: Arts Council England, Music Beyond Mainstream Touring Production and Barbican, London

Struggle & Emerge

Irish duo Lakker present a remarkable audiovisual performance, inspired by the Dutch people’s relationship with water. Delving deep into the archives of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Lakker sample the soundtracks of documentaries on life at sea, shipping, canal journeys and water sports to build propulsive electronic dance music, repurposing the nostalgic imagery of long-gone times to utterly contemporary effect. For Struggle & Emerge’s live show, Lakker manipulate this archive footage in real time, syncing it to the music it inspired, and revealing the hidden detail in visual and musical elements alike.

The documentary Struggle & Emerge, which follows Lakker’s journey to understand the Dutch people’s relationship with water and translate it into sound, was screened daily during Sonica 2017 and was created as part of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision’s RE:VIVE initiative.

Lakker: Dara Smith & Ian McDonnell
Directed, filmed and edited by: Linda Vis
Assistant filming by: Kasper van der Horst
Produced by: Gregory Markus

Supported by: Culture Ireland


When the North Sea flooded in 1953, it swept away lives and homes in the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK. Drawing from the tape-recorded memoir of a woman who lost everything to the flood, Shorelines – directed by Josh Armstrong – is a music-theatre work exploring the aftermath and effects of the disaster, as well as mankind’s increasingly vexed relationship with the natural world. Composed by Oliver Coates (London-based winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award 2011) and performed by the Ragazze Quartet, Shorelines sees performers interact with ghostly recordings of themselves, while acting out the constantly shifting tug of war between the current and the remembered, between man and nature.

Composer: Oliver Coates
Director: Josh Armstrong
Performed by: The Ragazze Quartet
Costume & Set Design:
Christophe Coppens
Lighting Designer: Nich Smith

Premiered 2017 at Operadagen, Rotterdam.

A Cryptic / Ragzazze Quartet Co-Commission, in partnership with deSingel (Belgium) and Grand Theatre Groningen (Netherlands), produced by Cryptic.

Supported by: Fast Forward – Fonds Podiumkunsten, Performing Arts Fund NL; Creative Scotland; PRS for Music Foundation; The Embassy of The Kingdom of The Netherlands; Eduard van Beinum Stichting (EVBS) & The Hinrichsen Foundation.


Denmark’s Between Music present an otherworldly, underwater spectacular. Working with divers, scientists and instrument-makers to investigate the ways in which science and art can meet and influence one another, Between Music have developed compositions for five musicians submerged in vast tanks of water that glow in the darkened gallery. With performers both singing beneath the surface with specially developed vocal techniques and playing instruments custom-designed for use underwater – including adapted strings and percussion – AquaSonic melds whale song and chamber music to produce a spectacle that’s dreamlike, transporting and utterly original.

Between Music:
Artistic Director, Composer, and Performer: Laila Skovmand
General Manager and Performer: Robert Karlsson
Performer: Morten Poulsen
Performer: Dea Marie Kjeldsen
Performer: Nanna Bech
Lighting Designer: Adalsteinn Stefansson
Sound Design: Anders Boll
Sound technician: Roman Komar
Stage manager: Claus Madsen
Danish Producer, fundraiser: Line Nordentoft

International Producer and Representation: FuturePerfect Productions

FuturePerfect Productions is a New York-based interdisciplinary production company creating dialogues between the fields of live performance, media, visual art and technology. FuturePerfect is the International Producer and Representation for AquaSonic:

Co-produced by Aarhus 2017 European capital of Culture

Supported by: Danish Arts Foundation, Aarhus Kommune and DJBFA