Sonique; the Life and Art of Dr.Sonique, is the authorised biography of Dr. Nigel Helyer in the form of a speculative fiction Graphic Novel. The work is a collaboration between Sydney-based comic writer Mark Hobby, the Taiwan-based graphic designer The Milkman, and Dr. Sonique himself who provided copious amounts of factual, anecdotal, and totally fictional […]Read More →
Listening in Melissa McMahon bugs Nigel Helyer.
Nigel Helyer is an English-born, Sydney-based sound artist, lecturer at Sydney College of the Arts, and co-founder of SoundCulture, a Pan-Pacfific organisation focusing on sound art. Helyer’s work is of an essentially composite, or in his words “pluridisciplinary”, character, in the sense that not only does any given piece incorporate a range of media, but many are part of a series of “events” (one or several?) including other pieces, other artists, other countries, radio broadcasts, internet links, CD’s, and CD-Roms.
Trouble in Paradise: Swelter – An Artists’ Project for the Palm House, Royal Botanic Gardens
May 1999 – January 2000, Sydney
by Michael Goldberg
Includes review of the Leaven projectRead More →
The science and art synapse
With increasingly evil results to all of us, the separation is every day widening between the man of science and the artist…. [the artists] not only do not desire, they imperatively and scornfully refuse, either the force, or the information, which are beyond the scope of the flesh and the senses of humanity.
John Ruskin, 1883Read More →
Sonic ecology: SonicDifference Conference
Plato’s Cave is the first place that I am metaphorically taken to by Nigel Helyer, the curator of the Sonic Difference exhibition and convener of this parallel conference. Plato had evoked a very powerful image, a gathering of puppeteers performing in a cave, their audience of chained prisoners with their backs to the fire looking at the shadows on the walls. There has been “an omission in history” however. Sound has not found a place in this allegory, despite the fact that humankind is “equipped to hear the invisible” with an sense organ that places us in the middle of a 360 degree sonic landscape. Helyer is determined to shift this perception that “the eye is the master and the ear is the slave”, as are the artists present at the SonicDifference conference. He proposes that there is a “dual alignment between technology and cultural discourse” that needs to be explored. I am also very relieved to hear that there is no established sonic theoretical discourse and sit back and look forward to being turned on to sound as the “perfect medium for changing my modus operandi in this changing world.”Read More →
Siege culture: SonicDifference conference
Discussion of sound and its place in the hierarchy of arts practice frequently takes the position of an artform under siege. Despite or because of the fact that hearing is considered our most constant sense–the first developed in the womb, and that which we can not shut out through physical means–artists who choose to focus on sound as their primary mode of expression spend a lot of time defining and claiming ground, snatching priorities back from a visually focused culture. With the title SonicDifference: Resounding the World it is not surprising that this conference traversed this well trammelled territory, however the resulting discussions were intriguing in the depth and diversity of the positions taken.Read More →
A deep vibration: A small migration
Standing in Shawn Decker’s sound installation A small migration is like being inside an exploded piano, or more precisely it is like standing inside the moment of explosion. The component parts of the work are suspended around me as though frozen in time. Still, yet full of potential movement; they generate a physical sense of imminence. At either end of the gallery large wooden frames support scaffolding bars rigged by chains from the ceiling. Piano wires are stretched across the gallery between the frames. At one end small striker motors are positioned alongside each wire; the installation responds to a series of computer-generated algorithms which trigger the motors that strike the wires.
A sound cause: Endangered Sounds
Dr Garth Paine’s highly conceptual installation, Endangered Sounds, raises the alarm concerning the implications of the increasing practice of trade marking and patenting sounds. His serious and meticulous enquiry urges vigilance should the air we breathe and through which sound travels become privatised.Read More →
Helyer’s progress: fusing art & science
The tape was in the recorder, and it was a long tape. I knew Nigel Helyer would have a lot to say, because even before winning the Helene Lempriere National Sculpture Award earlier this year, he had been busy. And since taking out that prize he’d been overseas, interstate, here and there, on the move, working on projects, collaborations, schemes and dreams. So I came equipped with my trusty mini tape recorder.Read More →
Seeking resonance: Interview: Nigel Helyer: SonicDifference
I had been looking forward to meeting Nigel Helyer; sculptor, sound artist and currently an Artist in Residence at the Paul Scherrer Institut in Geneva. Anyone whose reputation precedes them with such enthusiasm, respect and good humour must be special and, it has to be said, Dr Sonique is a great a.k.a.
Nigel has enthusiastically agreed to an interview and we meet over coffee in an appropriately noisy café in inner city Perth. Nigel is the curator of Sonic-Difference: Re-sounding the world, one of five exhibitions that make up BEAP 04. In the interview I was keen to explore his thoughts on the current developments in sound art as well as his curatorial thinking in his selection of works for the exhibition.Read More →