Sonikebana is a long-form composition designed for nine loudspeakers inside wooden boxes on wheels. The audience is invited to move the speakers around the room in order to shape their experience of the piece itself. Sometimes the slightest touch of a speaker will cause the piece to take on a completely new direction, leading to the emergence of new sonic forms. At other points, the speakers react less obviously and audiences are encouraged to listen instead.
The formal idea for this piece is based on a model borrowed from the refined art form of flower arranging called Ikebana. This involves the careful arrangement of plant matter in order to reveal something already present (but hidden) in the materials being arranged. This approach has been applied to a sound piece where audiences take on the role of designer and listener. The compositional structure of the work includes modification by the audience, allowing variation, but without compromising the ultimate intent.
Sonikebana was first realised as the public facing dimension of an interdisciplinary research project with biologists, ecologists, computer scientists and artists called City Sounds. Version 1 was first shown in Edinburgh in April 2018. It used sounds captured in the research project as source material.
Version 2 was presented in August 2019 as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival. This work built on the knowledge gained in Version 1. Hardware was re-thought and code re-designed to enable a much heavier duty period of use.
Almost all of the sounds of Version 2 were synthesised from analysis of video shot at Little Sparta, the garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay. The animation of foliage shimmering in the wind was used in order to excite a range of novel synthesis and computer sound processes.