Research and Development

Early days: –
The small Sussex fishing village in which I spent my childhood contained two significant buildings, significant not for their formal qualities, they were both simple cottages, but because one had been the home William Blake the poet, whist the other, Comet Cottage was named for the astronomer Halley. Without being conscious of the fact, I grew up in a cosmos in which the arts and science were intertwined, it has marked my endeavours ever since.

Nigel Helyer a.k.a. Dr Sonique is an independent Anglo-Australian sculptor and sound artist with an international reputation for his large scale sound-sculpture installations, environmental sculpture works, museum interactives and new media projects.

His practice is strongly inter-disciplinary, linking a broad platform of creative practice with scientific research and development in both academic and industrial contexts. His activities include; the development of the Sonic Landscapes”virtual audio reality system in collaboration with Lake Technology (now Dolby Australia) and the ongoing AudioNomad research project in location sensitive Environmental Audio at the School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales.

Nigel is an honorary faculty member in Architectural Acoustics at the University of Sydney, a Professorial Visiting Fellow at the school of Computer Science and Engineering at NSW University and is the current ABC Radiophonic Fellow.

He has recently held positions as Visiting Professor at Stanford University, Artist in Residence at the Paul Scherrer Institut in Switzerland and the Marine Mammal Research Laboratory at the National University of Singapore.  He maintains active links with The Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco and is an advisor to the SymbioticA biotechnology lab at the University of Western Australia.

Nigel is a co-founder and commissioner of the International SoundCulture organisation.  He was a Fellow of the Australia Council for 2002/3, the winner of the Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award in 2002 and curator of Sonic Differences part of the Biennale of Electronic Arts Perth in 2004.

Nigel has played a unique role in the development of Sound Art, both within Australia and at an International level.  During the course of the past twenty years his contribution in the areas of practice, critical debate and advocacy have had a strong influence on the practice of Sound Art, helping it to emerge from a position of relative obscurantism to become a vital and internationally recognised form of cultural expression.

He has maintained a strong insistence upon the linkage between practice and theory, not only in his practice, but also during his tenure as a teacher (Head of Sculpture Performance and Installation at Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney 1985~1999).

In a professional capacity he possesses a facility to operate between various sectors, frequently incorporating both Creative Arts and the Broadcast sector. He has formed a series of highly effective relationships between Cultural and Technological/Scientific entities and has undertaken projects with The Exploratorium Museum of Science and Human Perception (USA) Daewoo Heavy Industry (Korea) Lake Technology (Australia) The SymbioticA Lab (Australia) and the Paul Scherrer Institut (Switzerland) and the Tropical Marime Science Research Institute at the National UNiversity of Singapore.  He is currently the Creative Director of the AudioNomad Research Group and the Radiophonic Fellow of ABC National Radio.

His role as an advocate for these cross-disciplinary linkages has long been active.  His work as co-founder and commissioner for the SoundCulture organisation, has contributed to the production of a series of seminal international festivals (Sydney 1991, Tokyo 1993, San Francisco 1996, Auckland 1999 and Phoenix 2002) and SoundCulture is a major partner in the current Biennale of Electronic Arts Perth 2004.

During recent years he has been committed to the development of policy and funding initiatives at the Australia Council that directly support Art and Science collaborations.  He played an active role in the development of the Synapse Art and Science partnership scheme that has introduced joint funding by the Australia Council and the ARC, established a nation wide database and hosts Artists to work within Science organisation.