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Sónar looking for intelligent life sending music to the Universe

“We have given validity to music as a language for a scientific experiment.” This sentence sums up everything about Sónar’s Festival 25th edition. It will take place in its regular location at La Fira Montjuic and La Fira Gran Via, throughout June 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th. The artistic aspect of the festival deserves another piece on its own (you’ll find it soon on Xceed). However, these lines are destined to Sónar+D and its aim: “Democratize those technologies that are beyond the scope of the general public.” Sónar makes them accessible to the community.

An extremely ambitious project. Back in the day, they also amazed everyone with Sónar Calling GJ273b, a series of digital transmissions aiming for the Luyten Star, the closest one to this inhabitable exoplanet, 12.4 light years away from Earth (around 120 billion kilometres). If they were to be receiving the message and owned a similar communication technology to ours, calculations show that we would get an answer 12.4 years after, adding up to 25 years of experiment, which will coincide with Sónar’s 50th anniversary.

Music has turned into a language for exploration and research. But wait, what type of music are we talking about here? We’ll find out at Sónar+D. A Control Room will show exactly where the emission is, and we’ll also be able to analyse each one of the sonic microstories produced by the selected artists (the majority of them will be present at the festival as well). Some of them have even recorded the heartbeats of their future children while they were still in their mother’s womb. Vanguards Zora Jones and Ólafur Arnalds will explain in detail how these 10 second long messages are compressed and how they’re sent to an unknown place 12.5 light years away from here.

sonar calling tromso emission
Image: © Sónar Festival

Astronomy at this Sónar is a key point. That’s why NASA has been present from the very beginning, as well as SETI AIR (Artists In Residence Program), who also have been looking for intelligent life out in space for a while. MT Media Lab will also attend to carry out a live mapping of the universe, and well-known artists like Marc Marzenit will present musical productions specially designed to be interpreted in a zero-gravity environment and listened through immersive experiences. The IEEC will help attendees in fabricating nanosatellites and putting them into orbit.

3,000 companies are attending

Sónar+D merges talent and creativity. It allows the most innovative creators and talents work together in a Start-up Garden which also serves as an innovation channel for small and big enterprises. Influencers and mentors like Shazam’s founder or the investment head of Universal will share their experiences and advice with other renowned companies. The marketlab of Sónar+D is an endless field of opportunities designed for networking in which will hold over 100 activities with 150 speakers, 5,000 accredited bodies and 3,000 businesses from 65 different countries.

sónar+D marketlab networking
Image: © Sónar Festival

Concurrently, Sónar+D also places an eye on another unknown reality, although this time it is much closer: virtual reality. Realities+D will hold a series of actions and talks about this concept, one that is usually much less tangible than we believe it to be. Zach Lieberman will talk about his augmented reality concept. The creators will be able to go into Mediapro’s laboratory, called Sónar360º, where you’ll find the country’s largest drone (with a diameter of 19 metres). Garage Stories will complete its bridge between Barcelona and San Francisco through its augmented story-telling.

sonar+D 360º mediapro
Image: © Sónar Festival

The Glass Room Project will showcase how some apparently harmless objects analyse our behaviours to personalize their publicity. You’ll also be able to produce live music along with the British artist Mileece (Sonic Earth) thanks to SonarMies. Susan Rogers (who used to record Prince’s voice back in the day) from Google Magenta will present her NSsynth. Gene Kogan will offer a workshop on artificial learning devices. Important characters such as Ian Rodgers (a pioneer in the inverse price system with Radiohead’s releases) or Mat Dryhurst (Holly Herndon’s collaborator and one of the blockchain’s referents) will be present at Sónar+D as well. And last but not least, Mitchell Baker, from Mozilla Foundation, will analyse the future (somehow present too) of the internet.

Artists, the core of Sónar

Like every year, many Sónar artists are confirmed for Sónar+D to tell the public about their experiences, either before or after their acts. Local, cutting-edge names such as Refree, El Niño de Elche, Israel Galván and Isaki Lacuesta will describe how they broke so many barriers between disciplines. There are, however, two names that stand out from the rest. They are Ryuchi Sakamoto and Alva Noto, both responsible for closing the festival on Sunday night at Teatre Grec. In particular, Alva Noto is the representation of Sónar’s evolution. His musical development has taken him to the point of combining classical composition with electronic music, a product that’s been growing together with the festival’s growth.

alva noto sonar live barcelona
Image: © Sónar Festival

With such an exhaustive program, Sónar+D is launching its collaboration with BCN Tech City, a non-profit organization, totally apolitical and with the only goal of promoting the digital ecosystem in Barcelona. Over €1,100 million of investment allows the city to be at the top of the game in terms of global entrepreneurship. The Catalonian capital is the 3rd favourite city in Europe among investors from all around the world and Sónar plays a key role in bringing businesses together. The crowd knows it; they attend Sónar to discover, find, and ultimately celebrate and have fun. Those discoveries are a part of Sónar experience and at Sónar+D it all takes place at a much slower pace. Sónar+D is the prelude of what Sónar will be in the near future. That is why the most restless minds attend.

“Come and experience this, you’ve never seen anything like it.” This is what Sónar’s crowds always state.

(Cover Image: © Sónar Festival)