Dr Nigel Helyer (aka DrSonique) is a contemporary polymath whose work links Art and Science, or more accurately Poetics and Technics in a strong embrace of the environment, identity and cultural history. He has an international reputation as a sculptor and sound-artist who creates large scale sound-sculptures, environmental artworks and inter-active projects that prompt the community to engage with their cultural histories, identity and sense of place; inviting us to examine the abstract conditions of our world and our complex relationships to it.
His practice is interdisciplinary and collaborative, developing projects that expand the boundaries of experimental practice, especially in the areas of Art and Science, Environmental-Art and Bio-Arts, leading to projects such as GeneMusiK, a prototype DNA+Music remixing system; Host a sonic installation with live insects that has toured to seven international festivals. Nigel was the Artistic Director of the ground breaking LifeBoat bio-art project and co-founder of the SoundCulture that produced a series of major international sound-art festivals in the Asia Pacific region from 1991 to 2012.
Nigel works across aesthetic and discipline boundaries with a prolific track record of projects at peak international centres. His Australian R&D work in augmented audio-reality with Lake Technology (now Dolby Australia) and as the Creative Director of the Audio-Nomad Research Group, resulted in a series international patents and major immersive sound exhibitions.
He is a leader experimenting in the creative sonification of bio-data, produced as a series of cultural and environmental audio-portraits: VoxAura, the River is Singing, European Capital of Culture Turku 2011; CrayVox, WA Spaced Biennale 2012; When Science meets Art, a three year ARC project with the Bundanon Trust 2014/8; and Under the Icecap, a long-term collaboration with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and the Conservatorium of Music (University of Tasmania) sonifying bio-logging data collected by Southern Elephant Seals in the Antarctic..
In a recent collaborative project, Nomanslanding, the audience interacts physically within an immersive multi-channel, floating acoustic-architecture. Visitors cross a body of water to be immersed in a 20 channel audio composition with live singers. The work addresses concepts of conflict and reconciliation and has been exhibited in Sydney; at the Ruhr Triennale (2015) and in Glasgow (2017).
During 2018 he realised two major projects. Oratorio for a Million Souls, consisted of a series of bee listening spaces created in three botanical gardens (Leeuwarden, Emden and Oldenburg for the European Capital of Culture) this project also interact with one hundred local schools and three brass bands. The significant public art project Two Islands was installed at Franklin Square in the centre of Hobart (Tasmania) the sculpture presents a metaphor that draws together histories of Tasmanian Aboriginal and European settler cultures in the form of two symbolic vessels and a complex soundscape.
He has realised two significant collaborations with the Water Research Laboratory (UNSW) resulting in the Sonus Maris project that retro-analyses legacy satellite imagery of coastal Australia, animating and sonifying the data to reveal subtle structural water-flow patterns in ecologically sensitive coastal lagoons and lakes. He is currently collaborating with a group of Hobart based scientists on The Tasman Fracture Marine Park project (exhibition 2024 at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart, Tasmania) and he will also exhibit Freeze Frame, at the Maquarie University Gallery later in 2024.