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GenreExperimental music, sound art
Years active1991-present
Founded byNigel Helyer

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SoundCulture is a music festival, initiated by a group of artists and arts organizers in Sydney. Its goal is to advocate and develop culture of sound art emphasizing the varied and unique qualities of sonic activity taking place in the pan-Pacific geographical zone. Major festivals were held in Sydney (1991), Tokyo (1993), San Francisco (1996), Auckland (1999), and Perth (2004). Under the theme Invisible Cities/Impossible Objects, the first SoundCulture festival was held in Sydney in October, 1991.


SoundCulture activities grew out of the substantial and complex history of experimental sound sculpture, installation, performance and radio arts. They also work with current developments in sonic practice and emergent technologies. SoundCulture also takes a proactive role in developing a critical discourse in the sonic arts in conferences, seminars and publications. Local SoundCulture groups focus on the development of a sound culture in their region. They also integrate their activity at an international level by networking with other SoundCulture groups.[1]

The continuity of SoundCulture events has to date been maintained by an International Steering Committee which is made up of artists, critics, and curators. This group is now developing towards a networked structure.

Event History[edit]

Under the theme, Invisible Cities/Impossible Objects, the first SoundCulture festival was held in Sydney in October–November 1991.[2] Comprising 34 exhibitions, performances, site-specific public art works, radio projects, and symposia;[2] the festival featured sixty representatives from Japan, New Zealand, and the United States. Events included installations by Paul DeMarinis (USA), Minoru Sato (Japan) Nigel Helyer (Australia), performances by Anna Sabiel (Australia), Rodney Berry (Australia), a sonic taxi ride through Sydney, and a piece for ship horns in Sydney Harbor. Helyer was one of the festival's founders and co-commissioner.[3][4]

The second festival, SoundCulture Japan 1993, held in Tokyo in November 1993. Events took place at several sites including Theatre X, Kiryu Yurin-kan, the Kawasaki City Museum, Art Forum Yanaka, and the Tokyo Bunka Kakikan. It included works by Mamoru Fujieda (Japan), Douglas Kahn and Frances Dyson (USA/Australia), Chris Mann (Australia), Nigel Helyer (Australia) Philip Dadson (NZ), and Mineko Grimmer (Japan/USA).

SoundCulture 96 was held in April 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area. Altogether the festival involved 32 arts organizations presenting events at 33 sites comprising 17 exhibitions, 10 panels, and 55 performances and other events. The festival featured the work of 228 artists from around the Pacific Region. SoundCulture 96 was easily the largest sound art festival ever held in the United States. The festival included representation of a number of differing areas of sound practice: sound sculpture and installation, radio and telephonic works, performance, acoustic ecology, noise, cultural theory in relation to sound, appropriation, high- and low-tech activities, educational events for kids, homemade sound instruments, sound works for public space, and sound for film. Read a review here [1].

SoundCulture 99, held in March, 1999 in Auckland, New Zealand, expanded on the territory covered in previous events by including the work of Maori, Samoan, and Indonesian artists. It was curated to emphasize the culture in SoundCulture - the distinct sound traditions, practices and environments that feed into contemporary sound practice and in doing so showcased the work of a number of artists from New Zealand and beyond. Helyer and Simo Alitalo contributed "Transit of Venus" for this festival, the work was broadcast on The Listiening Room via ABC Classic Radio in July 1999 and was recorded for non-commercial use.[5]

SoundCulture (in conjunction with Tura New Music) curated the Sonic Differences component of the Biennale of Electronic Arts Perth in 2004 and the SoundCulture AudioLab at the Bundanon Trust 2008.

The organisation has recently re-modelled, and now embraces a nodal model, allowing smaller regional groups to form a network of SoundCulture groups.[6]

See also[edit]

  • List of experimental music festivals
  • List of electronic music festivals
  • Live electronic music


  1. SoundCulture Archived 2008-08-20 at the Wayback Machine
  2. 2.0 2.1 Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC); University of Technology Sydney (UTS); Performance Space (Sydney, NSW) (1991), Impossible Objects, Invisible Cities: SoundCulture 1991, The Performance Space, ISBN 978-0-646-06818-3
  3. Gebhardt, Nicholas (1 February 1995). "Noises Off". Realtime (5). ISSN 1321-4799.
  4. "Arts in Australia: Profile: Nigel Helyer – Seed". Australia Council. Archived from the original on 21 December 2003. Retrieved 10 February 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. Helyer, Nigel; Macgregor, Tony; Alitalo, Simo; Neumark, Norrie; Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC); University of Technology Sydney (UTS) (2004), Transit of Venus, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), retrieved 10 February 2021
  6. SoundCulture Constitution

External links[edit]

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