Art as a network of sound

View of Venice, Italy from the bell tower of St Mark's Square.
View of Venice, Italy from the bell tower of St Mark's Square.PHOTO: REUTERS

Art-lovers thronging the streets of Venice this month will have no shortage of things to see at the world's most important international art festival.

But how about a "sonic counterpart" to the Venice Biennale - an invisible network of sound artworks that are triggered as you walk around the city after downloading an app on your phone?

Listeners may hear, for example, the sound of Ashanti church music as they approach some of the churches in Venice, the clamour of border protests as they leave the island, or the sound of a school band stirring to life near a bandstand in the Giardini, one of the main venues of the Biennale.

Sonic Soundings/Venice Trajectories, curated by Singaporean artist Erika Tan, is an ongoing project with sound works by about 20 artists from Europe and Asia. Tan and the other artists selected the locations in Venice that would best suit their various sound works.

Sonic Soundings was launched in July 2017 in Venice. In the city that same year, Tan was one of the artists exhibiting at the Diaspora Pavilion, which challenged the prevalence of national pavilions in an international biennale. She came up with Sonic Soundings after the launch of the Diaspora Pavilion and saw it as a way to extend the ideas in her earlier work through the medium of sound.

Sonic Soundings, which is not confined to a pavilion or single location, allows sounds to infiltrate the heavy nation-determined structure of the Venice Biennale.

This sonic project is a kind of "mapping", she says, "that isn't necessarily territorial, that isn't about the nation".


  • WHERE: Throughout Venice, via an app

    WHEN: Till Nov 24


    INFO: For information and how to download the app, go to; people outside Venice can also experience Sonic Soundings through the app, albeit not in its full form

Other Singaporeans involved in the project are artist-musician Bani Haykal, London-based artist Lynn Lu, London-based curator Annie Jael Kwan and Song-Ming Ang, Singapore's official representative at the Venice Biennale.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2019, with the headline 'Art as a network of sound'. Print Edition | Subscribe