Where raving and research meet

Catalonia (Barcelona)

On paper it looks weird: A three day congress dedicated to technology and innovation taking place in the heart of one of Europes’ biggest dance music events. But while raving and research make for unlikely bedfellows, since its first event in Barcelona in 2012, Sónar+D has become a key part of Sónar Festival, allowing festivalgoers to experience the latest technological, creative and social innovations. It has already expanded to Sao Paulo, Santiago, Buenos Aires and Reykjavik.

“For us, Sónar +D is a creative laboratory for digital culture and technology”, curator Jose-Luis Vicente, explains. “There is a feedback loop between Sónar and Sónar+D, whereby visitors to the congress can get a taste of what the future holds.” As with any project concerned with the future, the congress hopes to foment social change, both through “encouraging the digital transformation of culture across creativity and technology… and drawing attention to projects prototypes and discussions where social change is only about to start.”

With both the Music Hack Day events and the Startup competition being integral to the event, this can mean anything from getting hands-on with the latest music composition software or a machine code workshop, to attending a lecture on data-powered art or a cultural analysis on the difference science, technology, art and culture makes to the world by producer Brian Eno.

If Sónar has long had a reputation for forward-thinking in its choice of artists, +D aims to be a space where development happens (hence the name: SonaR+D). It’s not just about showcasing shiny new things, but encouraging the on-site creation of creative approaches, technological innovation and business ideas, and even catalysing empathy.

In 2015, the custom-built virtual reality showcase for Chris Milk’s Vrse asked festival attendees to don Oculus Rift VR headsets and bear witness to marches against police brutality and enter a Syrian refugee camp. This year Minecraft, one of the games with the most users worldwide, will call on its director of operations to present how a massively multiplayer game can become a powerful tool for education and social change.

In 2016, the focus was on earth activism, including an exhibition of the Little Sun solar project and the monumental SonarPLANTA installation incorporating seismic data (by CERN and NASA artists in residence Semiconductor).

This year Sónar+D runs from the 14-17 June 2017 in Barcelona, with a full day of activities exclusively for Delegate Pass holders on Wednesday 14. You can check all the artists from Sónar Barcelona 2017 here. Speakers and participants so far announced include Jessica Brillhart from Google VR, digital creative Daito Manabe and UNVR creative director Gabo Arora. Watch his film ‘Clouds Over Sidra’ here. Björk will open the festival on 14 June with a talk about the role of virtual reality in her audio-visual world… and a special 4-hour DJ set.

Every year Sónar+D continues to push for change, one raver at a time. 

Special offer from the Atlas Editor:

As Sónar +D turns five, this year we are proud to become their Community Partner. Thanks to the collaboration agreement between Atlas of the Future and Sónar+D that aims to promote professional networking opportunities and knowledge between communities related to music, technology and the creative industries, every year we can offer our Atlas community an exclusive promotional price. A Delegate Pass gives you full access to all Sónar+D activities and Sónar gigs. Check all the benefits here. Simply write to promotions@sonar.es stating ‘Atlas of the Future’ in the subject of the mail.

Submitted by

Paul Geddis (21 March 2017)


Paul Geddis is a gun for hire, working on editorial projects related to music and youth culture in Barcelona Spain.

Project leader

Jose-Luis Vicente, Curator

In 2016 Brian Eno analysed the difference science, technology, art and culture makes to the world

Microtonal Mies Van Der Rohe in 2016

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