Sonica 2017

The full programme for Sonica 2017 has been announced…

The major Glasgow-wide festival of visual sonic art will host the Scottish premiere of Dear Esther (Tramway, 3 November). 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. 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 will have the same experience of their visit to the island.

Sonica 2017 is proud to host the World Premiere of Scottish artist Mark Lyken’s new film Táifēng and the Motorway Saint (Glasgow Sculpture Studios, 26 October – 4 November), commissioned by Cryptic. Filmed during a typhoon in Taiwan, randomness and order collide. Two films play simultaneously, the first documents overlooked areas and unheard voices of three Taiwanese cities whilst the second shows a natural process in close detail: the bubbling and steaming of a jade-green geothermal spring, full of potential to erupt at any moment.

A triple bill of AV work (Tramway, 4 November) from France, Québec, the Netherlands and UK will see experimental electronic musician Paul Jebanasam’s (UK) 2016 album Continuum turned into a mesmerising performance with dazzling live visuals by Tarik Barri (the Netherlands), taking the viewer on a thrilling, galactic-scale journey; Alex Augier’s (France) slick and macabre nybble (UK Premiere) taking place across four giant screens and Martin Messier’s (Québec) FIELD (UK Premiere), which use electromagnetic transducer microphones to create a soundscape from the previously inaudible and invisible.

Inspired by the idea of the African talking drum, Nicola L. Hein (Germany) & Lukas Truniger’s (Switzerland) Membranes will have its World Premiere at Sonica 2017 (Performance & Installation, Tramway, 3 & 4 November). Exploring the boundaries where music and language overlap, Hein and Truniger use hybrid instruments – constructed from drum-skins and electronic components – as devices to turn written texts into pulses of light and percussive sound.

Meaning ‘that feeling of melancholy that can follow a great achievement’, Buzz Aldrin Syndrome (UK Premiere) translates soundtracks from classic sci-fi movies into charged electrical currents along with footage from the Hubble telescope in a hi-tech mash-up of fiction and reality from French duo Quentin Euverte and Florimond Dupont (Govanhill Baths, 26 October – 5 November).

Selected as the inaugural VR film from the Sundance Institute New Frontier | Jaunt VR Residency Program in 2016, Collisions (CCA, 26 October – 5 November), created by one of the pioneers of 360° filmmaking Lynette Wallworth, explores the invasion of Western technology and culture on the indigenous elder, Nyarri Morgan and the Martu tribe in the Pilbara desert, one of Australia’s sparsest, most remote outback territories.

Ireland’s Lakker (Dara Smith & Ian McDonnell) present Struggle & Emerge (Tramway, 2 November), a remarkable audiovisual performance which delves deep into the archives of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, to explore the Dutch people’s relationship to water. Documentary footage of life at sea, shipping, canal journeys and water sports is manipulated live to create propulsive electronic dance music, repurposing the nostalgic imagery of long-gone times to utterly contemporary effect. Lakker will also co-host a one-off Sonica club night at The Art School on 3 November, inspired by their 2015 breakthrough album Tundra, which mixes eerily beautiful vocals with electronica to create hugely danceable music with an organic heart. They will be joined by Cryptic Associate Robbie Thomson who will perform his highly successful XFRMR.

Sonica 2017 steps out of the art gallery confines to present quirky works in a range of unexpected venues across the city. Mathis Nitschke’s short opera Viola will place its audience into a St Enoch’s Centre shop window (4 & 5 November), turning the whole of the outside world into a stage, whilst The Megaphone Project, by Australian-based Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, will fill the Kelvingrove Bandstand (28 – 29 October & 3 – 5 November) with bright red megaphones of different shapes and sizes, to create a thrilling chorus of disembodied voices as part of Glasgow UNESCO City of Music. Home to the world’s longest echo in a man-made structure, Hamilton Mausoleum will house the UK premiere of a stereo reimagined as a gyroscope, transmitting a recording by experimental poet and creator of the ‘cut-up’ method Brion Gysin, in Robert Pravda’s Monoid mk II (27 – 29 October) and the soon-to-be-announced winner of a Sonica open commission will create a site-specific piece for the Titan Crane.

Sonica takes place in venues across Glasgow from the 26 October to 5 November. In total, the programme boasts over forty international artists from twelve countries across five continents, with 13 UK premieres, four world premieres, eight new Cryptic commissions, installations and family friendly events,

The festival opens in spectacular style with the UK premiere of the unique underwater concert AquaSonic at Tramway on 26 and 27 October. Nine years in the making, Denmark’s Between Music have worked with deep sea divers, scientists and instrument-makers to create compositions for five musicians submerged in vast tanks of water that glow in the darkened space. With performers both singing beneath the surface using 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 an unmissable, otherworldly event that promises to be one of the highlights of the Autumn cultural calendar.

Sonica will also host the UK premiere of Cryptic’s Shorelines (Tramway, 1 & 2 November), a collaboration of rich talents including composer Oliver Coates (UK), the all-female Ragazze Quartet (the Netherlands), renowned artist and designer Christophe Coppens (Belgium) and young Glasgow director Josh Armstrong (UK). Fresh from its world premiere at the prestigious Operadagen festival in Rotterdam, Shorelines is inspired by the North Sea Flood of 1953, which left the Netherlands devastated and also took many lives in the UK and Belgium, and explores the beauty and catastrophic power of the sea at a time of increased risk from climate change.

Sonica’s 2017 Artist in Residence Nelo Akamatsu (Japan), whose practice spans video, painting, sculpture and photography, will present two works at the festival. Chijikinkutsu – winner of the prestigious Golden Nica in the Sound Art category at Prix Ars Electronica 2015 – uses water, sewing needles, glass tumblers and coils of copper wire that, when combined with electric currents, create sounds that will resonate throughout the Govanhill Baths (26 October – 5 November). He will also develop a site-specific version of CHOZUMAKI for the iconic Mackintosh Tower at The Lighthouse (26 October – 7 January 2018). Inspired by the fractal structure of vortices, the installation comprises glass vessels filled with water and a small winged magnet that rotates at the bottom to generate a swirling vortex. Tiny bubbles emit curious sounds when they’re swallowed into the vortex, which audiences can hear through a spiral-shaped pipe that resembles the cochlea in the human ear. The vortex’s shape constantly changes, as does the sound it produces.

Mexico’s ‘Godfather of Sonic Art’ Manuel Rocha Iturbide also presents a double-bill for Sonica 2017. Extended Tension is a suspended electric guitar that confronts the dichotomy between silence and sound and invites visitors to break the tension by plucking its strings (Performances & Installation, Govanhill Baths, 26 October – 5 November). Zzzzzzzzz, is a playful meditation on the snoring sounds emerging as we pass from wakefulness to dreaming (CCA, 26 October – 5 November).

Other international highlights include Floex & Initi, aka Tomas Dvořák & Dan Gregor’s (Czech Republic), Archifon IV, an interactive architectural installation which will transform ornate elements of The University of Glasgow’s Memorial Chapel (2 – 5 November) into a virtual musical instrument. Audiences play with laser pointers which activate acoustic and optical elements mounted at various points on the building’s interior, making the once still walls come to life.

Glasgow Science Centre’s Planetarium will play host to a triple bill of full dome live AV performances (28 October); OMNIS from Montréal’s Maotik aka Mathieu le Sourd, is an immersive sensory experience where a series of optical illusions and reverberations challenge the viewer’s sense of space and time; Hidden Towers (UK Premiere) from the Czech Republic’s The Macula aka Jan Sima, is inspired by the ‘godather of cyberpunk’ William Gibson, and Jonny Knox’s Remote Sense, delves deep into our ancient past, tracing the story behind some of the world’s earliest art forms with a haunting, restless soundtrack from Darien Brito.

Sonica is dedicated to nurturing Scottish and UK talent, with a World Premiere commission from Cryptic Associate artist Kathy Hinde, whose Phase Transition (Govanhill Baths, 26 October – 5 November), is an audio visual installation sited in an empty swimming pool created from gongs, water, melting ice, prepared turntables and bespoke sub-bass speakers. Kathy also collaborates with Norway’s Solveig Settemsdal on Singularity (CCA, 26 October – 5 November), which sees randomness taking form as a singular white light point that takes on ever more complex shapes as it collapses in on itself, accompanied by Hinde’s increasingly organised soundtrack – performed on everything from violin to toy piano.

Following its sell out World Premiere at the Grand Theatre Groningen, the Netherlands this summer, Cryptic Associate Artist Robbie Thomson will present the UK Premiere of Infinite Lives (Tramway, 26 – 28 October). Conducted by a live electronic score, this performative installation blends projection with robotic devices to create a technologically induced lucid-dream state for an intimate audience. Inspired by discourses on consciousness from the mid-20th century to the present day including Rita Carter, Philip K Dick, Jaron Lanier, RD Laing and Robert Anton Wilson, Thomson will interview contemporary practitioners in the fields of psychiatry, AI and nano-science in collaboration with the Kelvin Nano-characterisation Centre at the University of Glasgow to create the piece.

First shown at the Edinburgh Art Festival 2017, newest Cryptic Associate, Heather Lander’s immersive sonic light sculpture Nearer Future, an exploration of the physicality of the natural world and our growing virtual horizons, will mesmerize audiences with moving image and an ambient soundtrack from composer Robert Bentall (Performances & Installation, CCA, 26 October – 5 November).

Cryptic’s Artistic Director Cathie Boyd said “We’re delighted to announce the full programme for Sonica 2017. It’s a testament to the profile of the festival that it’s been chosen to host the opening of AquaSonic’s world tour and Dear Esther Live’s UK tour. We encourage everyone from Glasgow to come experience the best in sonic visual art from across the world right on their doorstep – whether it’s experiencing a blockbusting live show or popping along to St Enoch’s Centre or Kelvingrove Park to see a familiar public space in a whole new light.”

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