Ljubljana, November 2016

Sonica Festival 2016: SONIC.ARCHITECTURES


The 2016 edition of Ljubljana’s SONICA festival, titled SONIC.ARCHITECTURES, was dedicated to sound and architecture. Ever since its first edition, SONICA festival (as well as its predecessor Spring Festival Ljubljana) has been discovering and reviving unconventional spaces with sound interventions. This year’s SONICA festival took the intersections of sound and architectures into its main focus. Every artist premiered a new project or presented their latest projects in a different way. That’s at least 6 premieres and 2 commissions, as well as 3 new releases on the newly established ASONIC Label. Along with live performances, workshops and an exhibition, SONICA hosted a 2-day symposium on sound and architecture, where questions on sound and public space, as well as reviving and preserving architecture, were discussed. SONICA took place in different spaces around Ljubljana from 27 September to 1 October.


Festival opening: Tim Hecker and Christian Kroupa

For the festival opening at the Kino Å iÅ¡ka Center for Urban Culture, Christian Kroupa, a young Slovenian producer and Red Bull Music Academy protégé, introduced his brand new material to be released on ASONIC label in the following months. In his set, Kroupa returned to his beginnings with darker ambiental sounds, which were a perfect introduction to the festival opening’s main guest. Tim Hecker returned to Ljubljana after 8 years (he was guest of the Sonica festival in 2009) and performed his latest material from the Love Streams album. His extraordinary feeling for dramaturgy and subtle harmonies accented the dark space, filled with fog.


After a grand opening, festival guests had some time for reflection and theory. The two-day SONIC.ARCHITECTURES Symposium at Slovenian Cinemateque started on Wednesday with Architecture of sound/Sound of Architecture, which focused on the intersections of sound and space with three lectures. First to take the stage was Janez Križaj, music producer and sound activist, who presented his views on sound ecology through his ongoing research of music in public spaces of Ljubljana. Next, Martin Reiche talked about his work, focusing on his latest project KiloHertz, which deals with radio frequencies. Julien Bayle presented his work on the Sonica commissioned piece Fract, where he researches the sound in relation to decaying concrete. Moderator Luka Zagoričnik and the three speakers were joined onstage for a discussion by Matt Spendlove aka Spatial.


The second day of the symposium was titled Lost Futures, after the keynote speaker’s Douglas Murphy‘s latest book Last Futures. It focused mainly on architectural heritage and public space – Breda Bizjak presented the Otvoreni grad Pula project (Pula – Open City) with the aim of reviving decaying architecture by giving it artistic content, while NataÅ¡a Bodrožić talked about the Motel Trogir project that tries to preserve this architectural gem. Andrija Stojanović and Vladimir Radinović presented their project Belgrade Sound Map, which collects people’s stories on different spaces within the city. Douglas Murphy analyzed the last utopias of the city and presented their destiny and Nikola Uzunovski talked about the destiny of modernist architecture in Skopje. The second day of the symposium was followed by an audio-visual live show by Wo0&Incredible Bob with their latest project Peoplemeter and the Slovakian duo Vritti.


Sonic Pavillion Exhibition and SONICA Finale

For the festival’s closing night, MoTA opened its new space to the public with the Sonic Pavillion exhibition. The exhibition was held in two pavillions under a structuralist concrete roof, the light and the dark one. The former featured Nonotak‘s site specific installation Narrow, a SONICA commission.


Nonotak’s installation, however, wasn’t the only premiere at the 2016 SONICA exhibition: StaÅ¡ Vrenko, a young Slovenian artist presented his installation Connective, featuring 6 DIY modular synths, which can connect between them and sample each other’s sounds. His installation was produced by Ljudmila and Zavod Projekt Atol. On the MoTA Lab roof, Stefan Doepner installed a version of his Jedinica Jedan installation, a sound and light device, which produces artificial lightning. In between the two pavillions, Nikola Uzunovski hanged his collaborative sculpture Alien, built on a workshop during the SONICA festival. On the roof, Gold Guides Me, a type-based installation by Anne Katrine Senstad was watching over the crowd. In the dark pavillion, visitors could watch Nicolas Maigret‘s documentary Resonant Architecture or enjoy the swamp-like sounds of Bojana Petković‘s light and sound installation Swamp orchestra. Fract, a new piece by Julien Bayle, a SONICA commission, took over the basement. For the opening, Sally Golding and Spatial performed with their new collaboration, Golding/Spatial, a spatial light and sonic piece. Some of Slovenian finest experimental musicians, had their go at the Connective installation, filling the space with connected noise. In between pavillions, festival visitors could get their chance to perform at the opening, too, as part of Slavo Krekovic‘s collaborative sound performance Touchscreen Orchestra.


After the exhibition opening, SONICA festival moved to the Rog Factory’s Concert Hall for a proper festival ending – a club night at Ljubljana’s former bike factory, turned event space, which now faces closing by the city’s authorities. Still standing strong, it hosted the last evening event for this year’s festival. SONICA Finale started with a set by GaÅ¡per Torkar, an up-and-coming young Slovenian musician, who is one of this year’s Radio Å tudent Club Marathon runners. He warmed the crowd up for Spatial, whose performance filled the hall with technoid sounds of distant raves. Vessel took over for the next hour, accompanied by VJ Pedro Maia. With black and white visuals in the background, Vessel guided the crowd dancing into the morning hours, when Felis Catus and Levanael took over with their b2b DJ set.


The festival concluded in the peaceful surroundings of the city’s Tivoli park, with a picnic and soundwalk Walking the Aphelion by Irena Pivka and Brane Zorman. This year’s SONICA was a perfect end to summer … join us next year in Ljubljana to get a chance to experience it yourself!

Photos by: Aleš Rosa/Kino Šiška (Tim Hecker), Katja Goljat