Historic sites around Glasgow to be transformed for sonic spectacular

A former steelworks, a historic mausoleum, an old tobacco factory and the middle of a maze will be transformed for a sound and light spectacular in and around Glasgow.

All moral rights reserved by image author, Ben McMillan
All moral rights reserved by image author, Ben McMillan

Quantum physics, the 1969 Moon landings, the poetry of a Chinese technology factory worker who took his life and communication between birds will all inspire elements of the Sonica festival.

Washing machines, draining pasta, upturned gramophones, electromechanical toys and dangling threads will be deployed by artists to create mesmerising sound effects.

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The event, which runs from tomorrow to 10 November, will feature more than 80 artists, including 50 international participants drawn from the likes of Canada, Argentina, France, Japan and Mexico.

Highlights are expected to include the transformation of the exterior walls of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for an event created by Edinburgh composer Brian Irvine that is billed as “an unlikely combination of street art and opera”. Dumfriesshire artist Katie Anderson will install a series of six upturned gramophone speakers cast in metal in the garden maze at Pollok House in Glasgow for her project Sound Horn. Polish singer Ela Orleans will draw on the Scottish indie-rock band The Cocteau Twins and classic science fiction soundtracks for NightVoyager, which will feature footage of the Moon landings.

Glasgow artist Kian McAvoy’s work Entanglement has been developed from recording and filming with conservationists in the Caledonian Forest, while Japanese musician Asuna will create an orchestra of “100 different electronic keyboards” for a former steelworks in Maryhill.

Greenock’s former tobacco warehouse, which was used as a barracks for American GIs during the Second World War, will be transformed by visual artists and musicians. Turner Prize nominee Luke Fowler is creating a special event for Hamilton Mausoleum, which is said to have one of the world’s longest echoes.

Sonica will open with the unveiling of Aether, an installation of thousands of dangling threads which will pulse and glimmer with light to an electronic soundtrack.

Festival curator Cathie Boyd said: “Our fifth festival brings some of the best visual sonic works to a range of venues across Glasgow, presenting more than 80 intriguing artists from 11 countries, as well as highlighting our great homegrown talent.”