Subtle Technologies v.18

Expanded Notions of Sound in Science & Art

Whoever knows the mystery of vibrations indeed knows all things

– Hazrat Inayat Khan

The 2015 Festival brings together scientists, artists and inventors that are exploring the mind and body altering properties of sound; working toward innovation in the way we conceive of it and its numerous possibilities for the future. From applications in clinical medicine to cultural healing and trauma therapy, each component of this year’s program addresses sound as more than a phenomenon, but as a powerful and largely untapped resource for better living and social progress.



Cienfuegos Image courtesy of Andrew Zealley

EN. MORENDO: Sound Art Installations 

Co-presented with the Gladstone Hotel

Featuring works by: Alexandra Gellis, Andrew ZealleyMitchell Akiyama

1214 Queen Street West, first floor
Gallery hours: Noon-5pm daily

In musical composition the words “en. morendo” indicate a piece should be played as if “fading into nothingness,” or, in other words, a sound that slowly dies. In contrast, this term can also be interpreted to mark a sudden change in tempo, and more often one that alters the entire mood of the piece. In this spirit, the works presented in this exhibition evoke decay and deterioration but in ways that focus less on notions of ‘the end’ so much as notions of transference and nlessing from one form to another.


The Icicle Atlas Image courtesy of Stephen Morris


Co-presented with Continuum Contemporary Music

Thursday May 28th, 2015, 8pm at the Theatre Centre
1115 Queen Street West

Subtle Technologies teams up with Continuum to host an evening of experiments in music, media art and science. In this groundbreaking cross-disciplinary project, leading Canadian scientists, composers and contemporary artists explore sound as a means to express geological patterns, galaxy formation, the boundaries of time and beyond.


Performed by Fareena Chanda (media artist), Jimmie Leblanc (composer), Stephen Morris (scientist)

An immersive, projection-based installation and musical performance based on Stephen Morris’ Icicle Atlas, an extensive research project investigating the patterns of ice and icicle formation.

Colliding Galaxies: Colour & Tones

Performed by Nicole Lizee (composer) & Jayanne English (scientist)

Using the colourization of data at specific frequencies, a striking Hubble Space Telescope image of Hickson Compact Group 31 is deconstructed in this composition for six musicians by Nicole Lizée. The accompanying projected visuals, based on images by astronomer Jayanne English, peel back layers of data to reveal detector noise and the pixelated substrata associated with the physics of machine “seeing.”

Times Collide

Performed by Erin Fortier (scientist/artist), Jason Baerg (interdisciplinary artist) & James Rolfe (composer)

This hybrid presentation will begin with a dialog across time and transition through performance, music, and new media representations of the relationships between land, animals, and humanness. Rhythm, colour, and narrative are key themes that are woven through the works.


Performed by Michael Oesterle (composer) & Carla Huhtanen (soprano)

Solo vocal performance remarking on the lives (and struggles) of Alan Turing and Marie Curie.

Conductor: Brian Current


Image courtesy of Rob Cruickshank


Co-presented with the Gladstone Hotel

Friday May 29th, 2015, 7-10pm in the Melody Bar at the Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen Street West, first floor

HIGHNOTE is the official launch party for the 18th annual Subtle Technologies Festival. Join us in the Melody Bar for a vibrant evening of experimental musical performances that span algorithm raving to improvised audio/video duets to low-frequency dance music. Stick around after the show for some good old-fashioned karaoke fun.

Featuring performers:


Singing bowls in tandem with video projection

T(IO)R-There Is Only Rhythm

Improvised ‘algorave’

LITTLE OAK ANIMAL aka Dafydd Hughes & Rob Cruickshank

Computer-generated music & live video projection


DJ set | contemporary


Image courtesy of Dipna Horra

Saturday May 30, 2015, 9am-4:30pm at Artscape Youngplace

180 Shaw Street, Flex Studios Gold and Silver (Rm 106 & 107)


9:15 | DR. FRANK A. RUSSO Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of SMART Lab, Ryerson University

Music as a technology for oscillatory coupling within and between brains

This talk will be divided into two complementary parts. The first part considers the perception of music from the perspective of oscillatory dynamics. After a brief discussion of physical principles that govern oscillatory coupling, I will consider its role in the perception of pitch, rhythm and emotion in music. The second part of the talk uses the same oscillatory framework to interpret new findings on the effectiveness of music as an agent of neuroplastic and social change.

10:00 | KATHERINE KENNEDY Artist and Lecturer, Electroacoustics, Concordia University

Voicing Public Space: Hmmm performances from 2005 to the present

The composer will discuss strategies for enabling adhoc groups to create sonic flashmobs, through her ongoing performance piece, HMMM. The non-verbal aspects of singing are explored, allowing the voice to be used in new ways.

11:00 | MITCHELL AKIYAMA, PhD Composer, Artist & Scholar

The Object of Permanence: 2500 Years of Frozen Sound

The speculation that sound is endowed with material, tangible properties that make it susceptible to storage has, for centuries, haunted literature and philosophy. This talk will chart the prehistory of sonic storage, listening for moments at which philosophers and inventors imagined that sounds might possess an immortality that could outlive their makers. We will hear not only of acoustic condensation due to icy conditions, but also of the haunting and spectral quality of sonic storage, a phenomenon that continued a nineteenth century obsession with preserving the bodies—and the voices—of the dead.

13:00 | LORETTA FAVERI Artist, Designer and Co-Founder of SonicWear Studios

Turning Movement into Sound:
How SonicWear is using wearable technology to inspire creativity and innovation

This session will look at SonicWear’s research and development of SOMO, a wearable sensor that turns body movement into music and how the device is changing the way we think about creative movement and dance education.

14:00 | MARC DE PAPE Artist, Designer and Consultant, Experience Design, ThoughtWorks

Sonification and the Poetic Translation of Data

This talk will be an exploration of digital sensing, physical computing and qualitative pattern making as it relates to our understanding of the lived environment. Increasingly, digital technology is being applied to the abstraction and modeling of natural phenomena for the purposes of prediction. However, this ignores the potential to utilize digital sensed data, from precise engineered instruments, for expressive purposes. Some of these uses may bring attention to patterns that impact the experience of the world, rather than simply describe it.

15:00 | DIPNA HORRA Media Artist

Sounds of (Dis)Location: Audio Art projects, 2009-2015

Works presented in this talk offer the sense of hearing to evoke hybrid musical and visual spaces layered with aural memories. Subtle sound strategies are used to investigate deeper social contexts of storytelling, cultural identity and architectural elements. The installation of these objects in space is an exploration of ephemeral boundary conditions. Here, structures develop and the physical presence of sound proposes an elsewhere, an in between dwelling.


Collaborators from the Collide event on May 28 speak about their research, creative process and the greater social and cultural contexts for their work.


In tandem with this talk:

Dance performance and intervention by Lucy M. May (Compagnie Marie Chouinard) & Erin Fortier

This choreographic performance hones in on the transformative properties of the body to reveal relationships in time. Sculptural reference points stand in for the forces that influence the active, reactive, and coincidental relationships between human, animal, and nature.

14:30 | Colliding Galaxies: Colour & Tones (JAYANNE ENGLISH & NICOLE LIZEE)



SCREENING: I Dream of Wires 

Co-presented with Hot Docs

Saturday May 30, 2015, 7pm & 9pm at Small World Music Centre

180 Shaw Street, Suite 101

I Dream of Wires (2014) is an independent documentary about the history, demise and resurgence of the modular synthesizer, featuring interviews with over 100 modular musicians, inventors and enthusiasts, including Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Gary Numan, Vince Clarke (Erasure), Morton Subotnick, Chris Carter (Throbbing Gristle), Daniel Miller, Carl Craig, Flood, Cevin Key (Skinny Puppy), James Holden, Factory Floor, Legowelt, Clark, John Foxx and Bernie Krause, as well as manufacturers and modular industry leaders Doepfer, Modcan and Make Noise.

Written and directed by Robert Fantinatto
Co-written and produced by Jason Amm



Image courtesy of O’Honey Collective


Co-presented with Artscape Youngplace

Sunday May 31, 2015, 10am-3pm at Artscape Youngplace

180 Shaw Street, Flex Studio Silver (Rm 107)

10:00-1200 | Sounding/Surviving: the role of music in health, emotion and memory

Dipna Horra  Media artist
David Bobier  Founder & Director, VibraFusionLab
Jo Simalaya Alcampo  Interdisciplinary artist and writer

This panel will explore the ways in which music can be used as tool for therapy and rememberance. In an increasingly globalized world, migration and networked technologies have both diffused and enriched cultures through the fluid storage and transference of sound. What are the possibilities for personal and collective healing through the integration of audio technologies and aesthetic experiences?

1:00-3:00 | Instruments of Change: the politics of voice & voice recognition technology

Katherine Kennedy  Artist and Lecturer, Electroacoustics, Concordia University
David Cecchetto  Assistant Professor (Critical Digital Theory), Department of Humanities, York University
Cosmin Munteanu  Assistant Professor at the Institute for Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology (University of Toronto, Mississauga) & Associate Director of the Technologies for Ageing Gracefully lab

Voice recognition technology has existed for decades, but despite advances in audio recording much of voice recognition software has remained crude and inaccurate. Recently, however, scientists have begun to experiment with ‘deep neural networks’ or building software that emulates processes in the human brain to recognize, predict and translate speech patterns. With the commercial tech market looking toward voice-activation as an attractive functionality for consumers, what does this move towards artificial intelligence in voice recognition mean for the future of our society, both practically and philosophically?

Image courtesy of SonicWear Studios


Co-presented with Artscape Youngplace

Sunday May 31, 2015, 10am-6:30pm at Artscape Youngplace

180 Shaw Street, Flex Studio Silver (Rm 106)

10:00-12:00 |  SOMO Workshop: The Creative Process

Instructor: Loretta Faveri

For many of us, dancing means moving our bodies to the beat of our favourite song, it’s predictable, comfortable and makes us happy. For some, it’s painfully uncomfortable and must be avoided at all costs. But what if we could make music with our bodies? Wouldn’t it challenge everything we understand about dance? Attend this workshop and find out for yourself. You and your fellow participants will be guided through a series of collaborative activities using SOMO, a wearable sensor that turns your movement into music. By the end of the session the group will have created a unique composition of SOund and MOvement.

1:00-3:30 | Live Coding in SuperCollider

Instructor: Ian Jarvis

This workshop will touch upon the basics of programming as well as the basics of computer music, all within the context of live coding, i.e. creating and altering the code as a mode of performance. Participants will use the keyboard and mouse of their own computer as an interface to create completely digital, improvised sound compositions. Using of one of the Instructor’s existing ‘instruments’ as a reference, participants will build their own versions and take part in a collaborative, impromptu performance to conclude the workshop.

4:00-6:30 | There’s not an app for that: Roll your own interactive audio with Pure Data

Instructor: Dafydd Hughes

As artists, it’s inevitable that every once in a while we’ll need to do something our tools just weren’t designed to do. This can be pretty frustrating, but it doesn’t have to stop us in our tracks–we just need to make our own tools. In this workshop we’ll learn the basics of Pure Data, a free/open source environment dedicated to building custom software for sound, visual and kinetic work.

We would like to acknowledge support from:



We would also like to thank our event partners:

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