SONA: Unpeeled Installation

SONA: Unpeeled consisted of a series of live events showcasing women in electronic music.

Each SONA: Unpeeled event contained a performance by an invited musician using innovative music technology. Performances were accompanied by artist talks and discussions, sharing skills and breaking down barriers to entry into music technology.

Alongside these performances and talks, SONA (Amy Beeston, Lucy Cheesman and Deborah Egan) developed an interactive sound art installation that responded in real time to live room sound.

The idea behind our installation was to create a cumulative aural record of the project: one that evolved throughout the series of events and – like the skill-sharing talks and Q&As of our guest artists – allowed us to share our own processes of making and collaborating, rather than just presenting the final polished result of our joint efforts.

Thinking of the installation as a kind of palate cleanser for the ear, we invited our guest artists and audience members into the room, gently encouraging them to contribute to the sounds heard in the space…

Over the course of the project, our guest artists donated a range of audio files to the work – some gave long textures, others gave short sound events of various kinds – and we arranged these to form ever-changing soundscape layers that could be heard if and when certain sonic circumstances arose.

Event-by-event, we then began to define and refine these ‘certain sonic circumstances.’

We experimented with different ways to capture sound from our audience members, learning two lessons quickly: (i) that a microphone is significantly less intimidating when accompanied by a listening head of some description and (ii) that the physical layout and sight-lines of the installation must be determined before beginning the signal processing and audio adaptation to the venue.

We tailored the sonic interaction strategy to our guest artists too, requiring quiet (near-silent) interactions during Ryoko’s event for instance, and much louder sounds from visitors at Amble’s event… As the series progressed we began to include other more verbally ambiguous (but easily audible!) aspects of sound too – you can hear a bit more about these in the Sound and Music podcast episode which discusses our work.

In this way, the sounds originally given by our guest artists were activated and re-mixed live in the space according to the sounds made by audience members themselves.

And so we wove a new layer into the aural archive of our network…


SONA: Unpeeled events are generously supported by the Sound and Music Composer-Curator programme, PRS Foundation and Arts Council England.