In its 29th edition, the Sónar Festival in Barcelona established itself once again as an international reference in connecting the world of music with that of art, technology and new media.
In particular, Sónar+D – the section of the Festival which, since 2013, has been bringing together artists, technologists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, thinkers, scientists, entrepreneurs, makers and hackers to give a comprehensive view of how creativity is changing our present and imagining future possibilities – was given a new format this year with new proposals and a programme consisting of more than 60 events including talks, AV shows, conferences, interactive presentations, installations and concerts.
Sónar+D, which took place over three days at Fira Montjüic, focused on four main topics:
- Web3: digital economies, decentralisation involving crypto-arts, creative markets and new ways of organising the Internet;
- Artificial intelligence (AI): the impact and implications – artistic, political, social and ethical – of these new technologies;
- Acoustic Ecology: a wide-ranging debate on the relevance of sound in the relationship between earth, nature and mankind, also designed as a revolutionary source of information for research and innovation;
- Ecology and Fiction: a multi-format exploration of the shifting balance between folklore and speculative thinking, with which to imagine possible futures.
Undoubtedly, the significant novelty of this edition was the inauguration of Stage+D, a space set up with various screens, designed to explore combinations of interactive presentations and more performative activities, where the public had the opportunity to pause and reflect.
SonarÀgora, on the other hand, was the area dedicated to debate created to strengthen the Festival’s commitment to educational content and specialised masterclasses on the world of music production and interaction with new technologies.
Lastly, there was SonarMàtica by Tezos, which was conceived as an innovative exhibition space and interface for presenting content dealing with virtual reality (VR), interactive installations, NFTs, online culture, and post-internet art – we give special mention to Botto, Nerd Funk and Face2Wikipedia as the most interesting projects.
Definitely the SonarComplex is the stage (almost a metaphysical theatre in the context of the festival) that continues to be, in my opinion, the most inspirational and performative source of research in the world of multimedia art.
It is definitely also worth mentioning the following works: the impressive ‘Echo Chamber’, a choreography of sound, light and shadow by Martin Messier, inspired by the world of acupuncture and ultrasound;
‘AI TRANSMUTATIONS’ by Hamill Industries & Kianì Del Valle, an extraordinarily powerful performance combining artificial intelligence with the dancer’s movements, reflecting on the theme of the fluidity of bodies;
American percussionist and composer Eli Keszler, whose performance was accompanied by the syncopated rhythm of his drums and retraced the 2020 lockdown using images charged with a sense of loneliness that enveloped the urban landscape during that time;
And, finally, ‘Transient’, an audiovisual concert resulting from the collaboration between Davide Quayola and Andrea Santicchia (aka Seta), where two pianos were digitally controlled by mathematical algorithms, generating music and creating visuals conceived as paintings where colours poetically merged and moved across the screen like waves.
All this took place in a dynamic, heterogeneous and almost folkloric setting, where live music represented the common denominator for audiences from all over the world who met during the Sónar Festival to experience the great theme of cultural diversity first-hand, in all its artistic and social significance.
images: (cover 1-5)MARTIN MESSIER, SonarComplex (2) SonarDay22. SonarHall Amnesia Scanner. © NereaColl (3) SonarDay22_Stage+D. Liam Young © NereaColl 01 (1) (4)What Art can teach us about Web3. Stage+D (6) Hamill Industries & Kiani del Valle. Sonar Complex (7) Quayola – Seta. SonarComplex (8) JASSS & Ben Kreukniet. Stage+D