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Sónar+D: Our top technological picks away from stages

There is so much more to Sónar Hong Kong than music

  • Mixmag Asia Staff
  • 14 February 2017
Sónar+D: Our top technological picks away from stages

Now that we know when Sónar is debuting in Hong Kong, we know where it will take place and we also know the first wave of acts announced to play the inaugural Asian edition, people have been somewhat satisfied after months of radio silence but what a lot of people in Asia may not know is that Sónar is a festival unlike any other in that it's almost as much about technology as it is the music. It offers festivalgoers the opportunity to experience the entire lifecycle of the creative process by linking together the creative chain with music and music production in an accessible way. Introducing Sónar+D, a congress of creative technology.

Sónar+D is a programme of forward-thinking workshops, talks and interactive activities designed to explore the relationship between creativity, technology, innovation and business in a fun and inspirational environment. It is geared towards those interested in creative technology and digital culture and also acts as a platform to interact, meet and exchange ideas with likeminded folk. Also, through cutting edge immersive experiences and interactive installations showcasing the latest innovations in virtual realty and new media arts, it aims to inspire interest in those who aren’t quite there yet either. Setup as an expo, there will be research centers, creative studios and other tech-focused companies participating.

Here are some of our top picks (so far):


Virtual Reality

There is a huge buzz around VR at the moment and what better way to discover it than mixing warm reveries of the past with the future. Like the name suggests, fabulous is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s iconic Alice in Wonderland. It invites viewers to jump straight down the rabbit hole and experience the magical world of while donning a VR headset. Participants will meet the Cheshire Cat while he hovers over them like a holographic airship and sings an original composition by Damon Albarn, frontman of British band Blur and creative mastermind behind Gorillaz. Albarn is also one of the original creators of, the UK National Theatre’s musical, which served as an inspiration for the VR selection. The digital version is a four-minute virtual reality music video that was selected as part of the first-ever VR selection at the Cannes Film Festival. The playful nature of the experience makes it a great entry point to the technology even for those who are new to it.

Time: TBA

Dirty Electronics

Workshop & Audio-Visual Performance

POLYTIK is a collection of striking synth modules and limited-edition musical art objects produced by Artists & Engineers and designed by Dirty Electronics and Jack Featherstone, who will “deliver an audio-visual performance awash with glitched-out feral noise and analogue sequences that spawn pattern after pattern of morphing geometric visuals.” Throughout the 2.5-hour workshop, they will also help the audience explore the space between sound and vision, and between listening and participating, while also guiding participants in creating their own customized modular synths. Check out the video here.

Time: 12pm, 3.30pm & 8pm


Installation, Audio-Visual Performance & Talk

XCEED is a local new media art collective focused on digital art installations, crafting spatial experiences and creating interactive audio-visual performances. RadianceScape 2016 is one of two installations by the team at Sónar this year and it is composed of sound and visuals generated from the radiation data collected from, a global sensor network for collecting and sharing radiation measurements. Resonance Aura IV is their second contribution to the festival’s first iteration and it is a dynamic 3D kinetic light sculpture inspired by the mechanics of a gyroscope that is designed to help the audience to reconcile the consciousness of their bodies.

Time: 6.30pm

Sound Swarm


Hosted by Dim Sum Labs, a collective made up of an engineer, an artist and an architect, Sound Swarm is a 2-hour workshop that will allow participants to explore, solder and assemble the inner workings of their very own Sound Swarm device, a Sand Storm being an abstract drum machine that plays a solenoid off the surface that it fixes upon. In this case it’s the sequencer for a device that is accessed via your mobile phone, whereby connecting multiple devices across multiple surfaces. Through sound, they believe, we have “dialogue with the objects that surround us and elicit rhythms from the spaces we inhabit, therefore this work explores how our interactions with technology are mediating the way we see the world.” It sounds intense but no prior knowledge is necessary as the group will guide and collaborate with the audience on how to hack, modify and pervert. The end result will be a live jam, collectively pooling all devices into a swarm interaction – a Sound Swarm.

Time: 3pm

Find the full list of Sónar+D activities here.

As always, the mainstay for most in the musical acts and amongst the first wave of artists that have so far been released is DJ Shadow, who will bring with him a full visual show, Gilles Peterson, Ellen Allien, DJ Tennis, Mind Against and Dave Clarke, and also emerging talents like Lady Leshurr, Kingdom and Evian Christ. Artists will play on a total of 5 stages including SonarClub, SonarVillage and SonarLab. Find the to-date A-Z line-up here.

Founded in Barcelona in 1994, Sónar is now in its 24th year and has travelled the world with iterations in New York, Seoul, Chicago, Hamburg, Buenos Aires and São Paulo. It is well known and respected all over the world for its high-quality production and powerful line-ups that link music, creativity and technology. The event, known in full as Sónar International Festival of Advanced Music and New Media Art, sees over 80,000 attendees every year with an extra 10,000 coming for its satellite events. In 2004, an in-festival conference called Sónar+D was launched offering workshops, talks and interactive activities designed to explore the relationship between creativity, technology, innovation and commerce in a relaxed and inspiring environment.

Tickets are already on sale here and are HKD180 for Sónar+D and HKD780 for full access to all programmes. The festival will run on April 1st from 11am to 3am at the Hong Kong Science Park in Pak Shek Kok, New Territories and shuttle busses will operate from the park to convenient locations spread across the city. For further information on the music line-up, Sónar+D, ticket types and prices and more, visit the website here.

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