The Shed
New York, USA

Our 11th Sonic Sphere was a 6-week installation at The Shed’s McCourt arena, a towering art space in the Hudson-yards area of Manhattan, in the glorious New York summer of 2023. 

Four times the volume of any previous sphere we’d created, and with a slew of other innovations to / extensions of our previous work, KA11 kept us firmly on the escalating iterative trajectory traced by our first 10 versions. 

After an extraordinarily intense four-month process, we successfully delivered a 20m sphere, weighing 50-tonnes, that was suspended by a dozen thick cables from the ceiling of the McCourt space. It held audiences of up to 250 at a time for extraordinary sound-light shows as they lay in benched nets from the the 124 speakers and 12 subwoofers all pointing in towards the audience, who lay on nets in the middle; the sphere had 398 nodes, on each of which was a light fixture, for a total of c. 67,000 LEDs. This was all controlled by software capable of combining the sound and light into a single multisensory dynamic. 

A consciousness entering the finished sphere

All in all, KA11 was a major escalation of ambition from previous versions. Moreover, it was achieved end-to-end in four months, including conception, design, fabrication, assembly and commissioning. And all by a devoted crew of unpaid volunteers, whom it is only right to single out and thank.  

KA11 featured quite a number of pleasing firsts:

  • Our largest and most sophisticated sphere to date  (with an audience capacity of 250!)
  • Our first suspended sphere (weighing in at 50 tonnes before the people entered)
  • The first time we had paying members of the public (29k of them)
  • Our first time working with some of the world’s top musicians (The XX, Carl Craig, Steve Reich, Uniiqu3, Yuné Pinku, alongside our loyal composer Rolfe Kent)
  • Our first dedicated light shows, prepared by top lighting artists like Polina Zakh, Mark Slee and Rikrit Taravanija
  • Our first time not building the spheres ourselves, but working with New York Union Labour
  • Our first time achieving a fully code-compliant, ADA-accessible space


The highlights were too many to mention. We got to collaborate with heroes like Steve Reich, Carl Craig and the XX; we were also lucky enough to receive glowing testimonials from a who's who of the world's richest / sexiest / coolest / most artistic / most musically legendary people

  • Mike Bloomberg: “It is truly something else… a groundbreaking cultural experience.” [Link]
  • Sergey Brin: “It’s wild.”
  • Cara Delevigne: “This is my second visit… I cried the first time... I never thought I would be able to enjoy anything this much.” [Link]
  • Ethan Hawke: “Probably the best, coolest, wildest, trippiest thing I’ve seen in a long time.” [Link]
  • Marina Abramović: “It’s a pretty incredible experience… you’re really transported to another space,  a communal space… I think the sphere has so many possibilities… I can see this as a space of silence, of gathering people and of story-telling… a space of theatre.. so many things to explore. This is just the beginning” [Link]
  • Steve Miller of Steve Miller Band: “Once people experience The Sphere, they’ll want to have all their public entertainment, speaking,  theatre, drama, music in the sphere… just because, acoustically, it’s so much better”.
Bloomberg couldn't believe his ears.

The Vision

Early on in the evolution of the Sonic Sphere, we had taken to embracing a process of rapid iteration. Iterating the spheres in steps: so as to be able to test out new ideas and make improvements as quickly as possible. The idea being that by compounding a great many small improvements one can achieve extraordinary long-term progress at low cost and high speed.

We had previously achieved ten iterations of the sphere, and wished with this one to build on all of our learnings and deliver our best spherical listening experience so far.

The goal remained the same as ever… to combine architecture, sound, light, and audiovisual art to fashion spaces capable of transporting people’s minds to outer space, i.e. to a geometry of consciousness entirely beyond our common sense conception of the world: giving people the experience of becoming the music.  

This installation was the result of a wonderful and tight collaboration with Alex Poots, esteemed artistic director of The Shed, which is perhaps the world’s most celebrated space for new art. Alex has worked with a dazzling variety of fantastic artists across many disciplines in a career going back a quarter of a century; and among his collaborators, as it turned out, had been Stockhausen himself, author of the original Sonic Sphere, the legendary but incomprehensibly forgotten Kugelauditorium of 1970 from the Osaka World Fair. 

Poots understood as well as anyone we have worked with the necessity and possibilities of the new kind of space of listening which we have been envisaging, and we gladly collaborated with him throughout the whole process. 

In early conversations with him, we learned that the Shed’s epic McCourt Space was built after the manner of the giant cranes used in ship-building yards, and could easily suspend an essentially unlimited mass. So we made the bold decision to suspend the sphere, rather than stand it on legs as had been the case with all previous spheres. 

Landing in NYC: our warehouse space

With a team deriving from all corners of the globe, first order of business was to have a home from home in NYC. We were lucky to find a tremendous warehouse space in deepest Brooklyn, with the help of Meira Bennett and the Lighthouse Society, in which we could gather, build an experimental sphere for purposes of experiment and mixing, and a place at times to sleep, too. 

Peter Nelson and Patrick Rowland building the mini-sphere in the warehouse


Jessica, Bash, Pez, Lyra, Jonathan, Jo and Fatemeh in the freshly acquired Brooklyn warehouse

Team morale and happiness

At the heart of any operation, but perhaps especially one fuelled by the love and efforts of an entirely volunteer crowd of contributors, was an environment where people felt looked after. And we were fortunate through the whole process to enjoy the care of Marty Tunnicliffe-Squirrel, the sphere team’s ingenious creative butler. Whether delivering sandwiches, ordering cocktails, debugging admin, or simply providing a listening ear, Marty was a continual source of support and perspective. He was at times ably supported in this mission by Ember Brash, his trainee butler.

The creative butler at the ready as the team test the spatial mixes

Patrick Rowland was an equally indispensable part of the team, always of sunny mood and great capability, who was called upon daily for months to undertake missions large and small to collect, build, deliver, and otherwise troubleshoot the endless list of things that bubbled up. 

Structural Engineering

With a notably tight timeline of just three months to design, manufacture and install the sphere, the structural engineering team had its work cut out to keep up with the deadlines.

Nicholas Christie, chief engineer and architect posing before the emerging sphere

The team was led by Sonic Sphere co-founder Nicholas Christie, with Resurget Engineering supporting the design process and running analysis; Rosewich Engineering doing the detailed connection design; and Kion Nemati and Ben Carter lending their deep engineering expertise.

The major innovations for this iteration of the Sonic Sphere were to suspend the structure, and have a clear, uninterrupted view of the space inside the sphere.

Jo, Stephane, Fatemeh and Bash in front of the epic hub that joined the trusses

Whereas previous spheres had all been ground-supported, sitting on legs, this Sonic Sphere took advantage of the absurdly high load-carrying capacity of the Shed canopy to hang the entire structure. Theoretically simpler in many ways, the complexity kept creeping in, and rigging the structure became a major challenge. The solution eventually emerged from some impressively creative problem solving and non-trivial analytical machinations by Resurget and Kion.

The clear view across the sphere was achieved by hanging the floor structure only at the very outer edge with 12 1.5 inch -thick cables that had thirty-year veterans of theatrical rigging drooling, so rare are specs of these sizes . A handful of unforeseen challenges were deftly handled by the Resurget team whose design of the radial truss structure carried the loads magnificently.

The master engineer finally relaxing with the sphere complete.

Electrical Engineering

Successful delivery of both power and signal to the 398 light fixtures was the result of weeks of experimenting, calculating and poring over New York City Building Codes. Sonic Sphere veterans Alex Bondarenko and Stephane Lee took time off from designing power systems for flying electric cars to devise a gorgeous daisy-chaining system for passing power and data across the surface of the sphere.

Interior Architecture

Another first for us was to be operating within the constraints of New York City regulations; with code requirements ranging from step heights, corridor widths, hand-rail availability, emergency lighting systems, and so on. The purview of these regulations extended to the gallery spaces, and the areas beneath and around the sphere.

The final design of the interior was the outcome of a frenzy of collaboration between the engineering team, Anthony Gagliardi and Dorian Booth of Almost Studio (who conceived the impressive stair concept), John Briscella, and Mike Murphy. We also benefited from input and guidance on the regulatory her ofJonathan Devito of Thornton Tomasetti (who also volunteered substantially his help beyond these responsibilities).

Without the skillful and speedy intervention of these architects we would never have been able to secure all the permits necessary to open the sphere to the public, and we were most indebted to all of them.

A view of the interior architecture replete with audience


On the subject of permits, a huge element of delivering the project was attaining all the necessary permits. This labyrinthine process was calmly handled end to end by Squirrel Collins, who brilliant kept the rest of the team from the Kafkaesque detail of the processes and the perilous unclarity of status and simply shepherded the permits in to land with a sublime minimum of fuss. Magnificent! 


Due to the exceptionally compressed timeline we were working under, we had to fabricate many components in parallel with the ongoing design process. As elements of the design were locked down, we would take them out to tender with a variety of fabricators across the East Coast. We were fortunate to work with some incredibly speedy and experienced shops who often turned around complicated fabrication projects in days, without which help executing the project would not have been possible.

Patrick Rowland and Istvan Csapo troubleshoot fabrication challenges in Brooklyn

Jeremy Guillory brilliantly led the process of fabrication, ably assisted by Patrick Rowland who, as timelines got tighter, pioneered a successful technique of walking into independent fabrication shops in Brooklyn who lacked an internet presence to persuade them to get the final pieces done.

Some of the beefy steel fabricated by our extraordinary partners

It was County Fabricators took on the task of making the critical truss structures, and various other key elements; Tuan at 2Dash1 built the hundreds of benches that made up the superstructure on which the audience of up to 250 people could lie back in immersion; Arch fabricators helped with numerous key components, as did Master Fabricators. CMN Steell, with whom we'd worked in Miami, delivered almost 1000 specially drilled bolts. We’re very grateful to all of these fine shops, without whose work the 11th Sonic Sphere would never have seen the light of day.  


A project such as this one also requires a startling amount of logistical support, as thousands of objects (bolts, struts, cloths, speakers, tools, LEDs, cables, cushions, nets, benches, handrails, etc etc etc) needed to arrive at the right time, often in inconvenient sizes and from far-flung places.

Here Jessica Lair (whose contributions in fact touched every part of the entire operation), Jo Zeng and Chester Chipperfield did a marvellous job under conditions of great fluidity, contending among other things with the very specific requirements of an important building like The Shed, who have highly constrained delivery times, and a short list of accredited delivery companies. In the middle of this process, with several deliveries happening daily, Chester built a remarkable database allowing for the smooth tracking of the hundreds of objects just in time to the bowels of The Shed, an interactive system of such perfection that towards the end of the process it had become almost a pleasure for the team to administer the supply chain.  Alongside this dream team, Luke Grob, our financial whizz, made decisive contributions too,.

Jessica Lair, queen of all things logistics

Also a big thank you to the team at Armstrong transportation, who rolled with the punches to deliver 67 trucks of goods from all corners of the eastern seaboard and some from beyond. 

Website and imagery

Meanwhile, Sonic Sphere wasn't just existing as an object, but also on the internet. We were lucky to work with the amazing James Hurst, who put together this website, with Chester Chipperfield and Stephan Mantua working on some magical renders, that really told the story in advance of the sphere being real.

One of Stephan and Chester's remarkable renders

And meanwhile, though not able to make it to New York, the man who named the Sonic Sphere (Thomas O'Duffy) has helped maintain and edit and adjust this website in the last months, a vital and much appreciated role!


Back to the physical world. To spread 50 tonnes of mass across the ceiling of the Shed, and in a fashion certified for several hundred tonnes more once live load factors were included in the calculations was itself a remarkable piece of applied engineering.

Never before had the Shed’s extraordinary capacity to handle deadloads been so exploited, and we were fortunate to work with the extraordinary team at BNW rigging who skillfully spread the weight across the ribs and beams of the Shed’s 114 ft high ceiling, pulling all manner of advanced rigging tricks out of their expansive tool kit to achieve success. Alongside them, on the Sonic Sphere team, we were also very fortunate to have the amazing Lyra Levin, engineer, aerialist, rigger, welder, and a veteran of several Sonic Spheres, who worked closely with the experienced team of union riggers, and was often seen airborne or up in the rafters as she led the process from the Sonic Sphere side.

Some of the epic rigging gear, with foot for scale.

A full account of the multitude of skilful processes involved can be found on BNW’s blog here. It was pretty fascinating to work closely with a team of such extraordinary experience and to learn more about elite rigging: a combination of mathematics, constant refinement and measurement, and lots and lots of motors, all wirelessly connected to an iPad. 

Side note: theoretically the structure should have been seriously susceptible to dancing-induced vibration. This was one reason why the eventual sizing of the 12 cables that suspended the sphere was of 1.5 inches vs 0.75 inches, which would have otherwise been plenty; the c. 4x increase in strength was a reassuring bonus, but the key reason for it was that it reduced the frequency of the structure as a whole outside of the envelope of human-induced vibration. It was nonetheless quite lively, and we made sure to make real time measurements during live concerts to ensure that the levels of movement were significantly below those that would trigger, for example, a panicked crowd to stampede, or cause the forces to risk any kind of failure.

The operational HQ once build had begun

Speaker arrangement

With the increased scale and volume of the space, a more numerous and powerful array of speakers was called for than any that we had hitherto delivered. For KA11, then, we greatly enhanced the sophistication of our speaker system. 

We were grateful for the input of Martin Roth and Stephane Lee in calculating the ideal distribution of speakers over the interior space, and after much modelling and many heated discussions, we settled on a 124 speaker system arranged in a Fibonnaci spiral with an additional 12 Subwoofers suspended  beneath the audience platform. Speakers were supplied by Harman.

A diagram ofthe speaker arrangement on the suspended sphere

The inimitable Rob Rowland designed a custom speaker bracket, a deceptively important piece of engineering since we needed both to minimise install time and to ensure impeccable safety with the speakers weighing 12 kg and often secured 10m+ above the audience. 

Quite astounding amounts and precision of cabling was required, and here Jobim Morris-Gabrieli did all the calcs for the cable lengths, tuned the amp settings, and masterfully configured the hardware, with more than 34 amps and miles of cable to coordinate. 

The miles of audio cabling ready to be run across the spherical structure

The one piece of misfortune on this workstream, truly a rotten piece of luck alas, came when a manufacturing fault was discovered in some 70% of the speakers only after we had installed them on the sphere and lofted the sphere a a whole into the air; this led to the urgent need to engage the services of a high-wire aerial rigging specialist (who had the aura of a special-forces commando), who over the course of a few weeks replaced the sub standard speakers while airbone during lacunae between shows. 

Speaker Software

Somewhat against our open-source, or at the very least low-threshold-accessibility philosophy, we used a software stack which included a premium spatial renderer: Flux’s Spat Revolution, utilising IRCAM’s SPAT protocol. We were grateful to David Lopez de Arenosa, a veteran of KA10, for his help in specifying this system.  It has to be admitted that Spat Rev is a great bit of software, albeit not without glaring omission and excruciating bugs, but its near-unlimited possibilities and ceiling-less channel count were sorely needed, since many renderers cap out at 64 channels.

The system for spatialising the audio across 124 channels

The Shed’s in-house engineers were an absolute dream to work with, and The Shed very generously provided us with all of the bits we hadn’t managed to procure in time; the beefy D&B subwoofers, a whole rack of equally beefy D&B amplifiers and a ton of expertise.

A sketch of the wiring diagram (in fact from the previous iteration)


One of our aims with Sonic Sphere, tracing back to the launch of the project, is to create audiovisual architectures of consciousness. And so we wanted to achieve a fusion of light and sound in the three dimensional space, allowing for a seamless experience of music as multisensory spacetime architecture.

Fatemeh Miri, a multi-talented engineer and project manager, was in charge of coordinating everything on the lights side of things- a remarkably challenging role. It required tight coordination between the overall design of the lighting system, LED fixture design and production, the prototyping, design and fabrication of light cloths, a software stack for the delivery of patterns to this extraordinary array, and tight coordination with the two main systems used by our lights artists, namely Chromatik and Touch Designer. 

Light fittings

The light nodes themselves needed to attach to the structure, and through a fantastic sequence of prototypes, Istvan Csapo devised a scheme wherein holes drilling through the nodes  themselves could receive a magnetically secured light-pod. 

The ingenious magnetic device for securing the light pods

The light-pods, an evolution of the KA9 and KA10 light pods, involved a strip of 170 LEDs wrapped around, and on the leading surface of, a tube pointing out from the sphere, allowing for a frugal communication of omnidirectional visuals to accompany the sounds.

The light pods undergoing testing in the warehouse

Lights cloths

Rachel Harris, also a veteran of previous spheres, led the production of the light cloths, of which there were nearly 800, each exquisitely stitched to stretch  perfectly over node, light fitting and strut. Rachel's rare blend of artistic skill, logistical excellence and high vibes saw this potentially very challenging part of the project come together with great panache.

Lighting software

Building on previous work by Stephane Lee and Mike Pesevanto, who had built our entire software stack from scratch in previous iterations (KA9, KA10), we opened our tooling this time to some of the leading lights-control software, like Chromatik and Touch Designer.

It was a terrific amount of work, and the results flawless: with Mike often seen in the warehouse, with Nathan Argetsinger, Dave Deriso and Michael White, piping out code in about seven languages.  Meanwhile, veteran Stephane Lee popped over a hackathon of a weekend to get some of the toastiest elements of the software nicely buttered and just in time.

Master coder Pez coding the lights shows into action

Mark Slee, the chief programmer / designer of Chromatik furnished us with a non-stop stream of tweaks and updates for the necessary integrations, and it’s truly worth checking out his “DAW” for digital lighting, quite the most user-friendly and expressive way we've encountered to make light shows with LEDs.

The lights shows themselves were by Polina Zakharova with 404.zero, and by Mark Slee himself. 

The lights in action on the half-complete sphere

Recorded Music and music preparation

The main body of music preparation was conducted by Merijn Royaards, and in order to have an environment fit for spatialising the music we needed a laboratory / studio sphere alongside the big one.  

We therefore built a mini sphere in our warehouse space in Brooklyn. We always knew that to get the best possible result you need a sphere of the exact same size to use as the preparation studio, but that is the perennial impossibility lucidly and playfully told of by Jorge Luyis Borges in ‘on Exactitude in Science’, where map makers achieve a level of detail in map making that means their map covers the world. So in summary, we were well aware that our 4.5m diameter sphere lab was not going to sound the same as our epic 20m one, but it nonetheless furnishes us with a first-class environment to develop all of the spatialised music. 

The time at the warehouse was intense, inspirational and not without adventure. We were treated to a private DJ set by the queen of Jersey Club, Uniiqu3, and we spent days with the incredible Madame Gandhi, exploring ways of spatialising the live shows and experimental session she would put forward.

Pez and Madame Gandhi at work for the live show

After all was said and done, on our last day in the warehouse, the sphere imploded itself spontaneously and dramatically (with no casualties, phew).

Sound Design

The Shed marked the first time our collective was presented with the task of spatializing work by well-known artists who had either provided us with stems of their material directly, or had curated a playlist with stems to be sourced through mediation between artists and the Shed production team. 

One of the primary potentials afforded by our sensory lab is to take music and sound and turn it into an architectural experience- to fully exploit all the possibilities that the spherical media space has to offer in time. This experience is not as radical as a remix in a purely musical sense, but it holds similarly expansive possibilities and does indeed require a radical deconstruction of material to be reconstructed as temporal architecture. Sonic elements that might have existed as tightly compacted single auditory units are now dispersed in space and gain a whole new level of experiential richness that can be unlike anything an audience has heard before, but is necessarily very different from the 2D version the same audience would have familiarity with.

Master spatialiser Merijn Royaards at work

Especially the xx album and Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians never quite landed where we hoped they would because the artists, while intrigued, were reluctant to let us re-imagine their work as architecture. Carl Craig’s and Yeaji’s playlists were much more successful in this respect, as we were able to freely use the material provided in a truly spatial way.

The live shows also witnessed the merits of true creative embrace from a curious artists. This was shown to us by Kiran, aka Madame Gandhi, who spent days with me in the studio spatializing her live show. The results were astounding and so much more than a mere cut above the rest. Kiran’s shows truly were a masterclass in how far we can take things experientially with the right amount of time, effort and virtuosity.

The build

Now of course, the build itself was a colossal undertaking. We operated for the first time with an external team (New York Union Labour) and while it was unsettling not to be allowed to be. totally hands on as we always had in the past, we learned a lot from these extraordinary, hard working, talented builders.

Alongside them, in the explosion of hustle required to get the sphere over the line, or rather up in the air, we relied a great deal on our most seasoned builders: Bash Ziady and Jo Zeng, Lyra Levin and Jessica Lair; Patrick Rowland and Ben Cheft.

Ben, a legendary veteran of KA9, joined for the final run in and his strength, problem solving, and overall nous was instrumental in bring the whole project to fruition. Likewise, our swiss army knife Patrick Rowland was endlessly available for

Finally, it is worth mentioning the anecdote of when Ben Carter, one of our egineers, drove across two state lines in a 3-day epic road trip to fetch some vital components when no other options were available!


Chester Chipperfield, who had already contributed so much with both branding and logistics, also devised a cool experiential journey for the first experience of the sphere, where the curtains swept back and revealed the sphere floating there like a fantastical orb in the sky, babbling like with audiovisual murmurings like some kind of alien space-ship.  

As the audience entered the sphere, a specially-created soundlight show, courtesy of Merijn and the lights teams too, with a voice over by Tory Stolper, skilfully introduced the capabilities and philosophy of the sphere.  

The audience flow through after the curtains reveal the floating sphere


Documentary maker Michael Wenger in action

We had the great luck to be followed through all the madness of this process by a talented documentary maker in Michael Wenger, who had the gift of sensing all of the most high stakes moments, and the charm and tact to be both invisible and a friend and confidante to many of the team; we await with baited breath the final cut!

Moreover, we were lucky to be photographed by acclaimed photographer Roberta Marroquin during the build process, some of whose wonderful photos are featured here. 


We were also fortunate to encounter a gifted young fashion designer, who became the Sonic Sphere atelier. Her name was Audrey Jane Barrett, and she made not one but two exquisite sphere-inspired outfits: outfits you can wear hard, but which are enchanted with style and whimsy. Here, at a light moment in the warehouse, we enjoyed Lyra modelling the latest outfit.

Lyra model's AJB's Sonic Sphere overalls

Recorded Showtime management

A final, somewhat lonely task, after much of the team had had to leave NYC to return to their jobs and families was the crucial one of making the shows run. Here Chester and Fatemeh soldiered on to master and pass onto The Shed teams

Astonishingly, Fatemeh remained for the whole six week program, ensuring that the lights worked, manning the live shows, and generally ensuring that we gave of our very best right through to the end.

Performances and  Lab Sessions. 

  • Yuné Pinku

Yuné Pinku was the first live performer at Sonic Sphere NYC (KA11). For her performance, Yuné had written some incredible new material, and her set up was a hybrid DJ set and live vocals. Rather than a full dance set, hers was a deeply thoughtful, sultry journey which was memerising and sensitive to the space. There were hints of bristol dubstep, 90s rave chill out spaces and future pop woven together in a seamless fabric that filled Sonic Sphere. We had chosen to split her stereo feed into a triplet of stacked and slowly rotating quadrophonic objects, using a set of filters to project certain frequency bands vertically in the space. This was a stunning masterclass in tension and release by a performer we all love and can’t wait to hear more of.

  • Uniiqu3

Over two exhilarating nights of sizzling energy, Jersey Club Queen Uniiqu3 took the stage at Sonic Sphere NYC. Her relentless sets of jittery beats, multi-layered percussive textures, sampled and live vocals got people out of their seats within seconds and the synergy was palpable. A crew of incredible dancers worked the crowd into a frenzy and Sonic Sphere was trembling with delight. This being a DJ setup much like Yune Pinku’s set, the spatializing setup was similar, with some transient-reactive automation to jump Uniiqu3’s drum beats around the audience. These were two unforgettable nights by an artist that is changing the world of dance music and holds the key to its future. In preparation for her set, Uniiqu3 had already set our warehouse space on fire with an impromptu private set for the Sonic Sphere team, and we are forever grateful for her incredible generosity.

  • Igor Levitt

Hailed as one of the world’s finest pianists, we were incredibly lucky to be able to host Igor Levitt at Sonic Sphere NYC. Over 2 days, Igor performed 3 times and had chosen a work by the pioneer of ambient, Morton Feldman and an extract of Bach’s Ich Ruf Zu Dir.. We had always envisaged to use our instrument to ‘explode the piano’, meaning we were planning to use a battery of so-called contact microphones to amplify the innards of the piano, and mix that in on the surface of the sphere with the acoustic sounds emanating from the piano itself. We were incredibly lucky to have been connected to one of the world’s leading acoustical engineers Amanda Lind who brought her expertise and relentless energy to help us explode the piano. My visual analogy when trying to explain how this might work was always Cornelia Parker’s Exploded Shed, which seemed doubly appropriate since we were hosted by The Shed. Nonetheless, how this might actually be done, and what it would sound like I had no real idea of, it was an experiment. But experiments take time to set up, evaluate and develop, and time was the primary casualty of Sonic Sphere at The Shed. Amanda had brought in some incredibly sensitive contact microphones, and we tried our best to make the most of our few early morning hours, but it wasn’t quite enough to fully realise what we had set out to do. The performances were mesmerising in their own right, but a real learning for us was the incredible importance of backing up ambitious ideas with the appropriate amount of hours to make them real. 

The master at work, with sounds live-projected across the full 3-D environment

  • Madame Gandhi

Kiran (AKA Madame Gandhi) was one of the first artists confirmed for NYC live shows, and she was one of the most engaged, committed and excited by the project. So much so in fact that I had the pleasure of working with her in my studio in London over several days in April to fully spatialise her backing tracks, and we then also spent another full day at the Brooklyn Warehouse to finesse and finalise things. All this meant that Kiran’s set was the most exquisitely spatialized of them all. The incredible generosity of giving us her time and commitment to making the most out of our instrument had paid off, and exponentially so. Kiran played live drum, percussion and vocals which were gently spatialized, but the addition of a fully 3D backing track made the whole performance a truly exciting example of what Sonic Sphere can do. Her continued enthusiasm and energy for our project is really special and something we cherish and are grateful for. Watch this space.



The Lab sessions were hard fought, (and won) additions to our regular programming. In the spirit of the Kugelauditorium project, an open stage to foster local talent, a true no-holds-barred accessible laboratory of the senses was critical for us to establish, even if KA11 was the first iteration fully ticketed and loaded with pressures to be financially viable.

That viability had taken a firm backseat due to the many delays and unforeseen costs of KA11, so by the time we finally got the green light on our Lab sessions, we were fully back into our experimental, boundary pushing mindsets.

The Lab session kicked off with an intro session hosted by co-founders Ed Cooke and Merijn Royaards. This was really a bird’s eye view of all the various things we had tried out with KA2-10; a brief history of our sensory laboratory.

The following session was a deeply intimate, fragile and beautiful collection of poetry readings by some on NYC finest poets and spoken word artists, (Danielle Bero, Lauren Ducrey, Kyle Studstill, and Cea (Constantine Jones) accompanied by original compositions by Spencer Handley.

Next up was the inimitable Madame Gandhi, who showcased her Antarctic recordings, soon to be released as a sample pack, with collaborator Atropolis. The sounds she had recorded were mangled, manipulated and morphed into soundscapes that may have started life in the anbtarctic, but took the audience on a journey to the depths of space and back, a truly mind boggling rollercoaster ride and masterclass in creative, spatial sound design. Madame Gandhi generously took her time engaging the audience with an extended and revealing Q&A session.


Spencer Handley’s incredible ‘Voices of the World’ was another sonic journey, but a journey of our world, and all the different voices that make up humanity. Spencer had spliced together many of his own field recordings with rare historical recordings of tribes and peoples from across the globe. His amazing collage was a celebration of language as a musical expression of human emotion that transcends our ability to understand what is being said, a truly remarkable sonic expedition to far off lands.

The next session was a remarkable pairing of composer/ sound designers Raquel Acevedo klein and Joe Mardin. Where Raquel’s work was a very emotive lockdown inspired orchestral work using nothing but her own layered voice, Joe Mardin’s was a collection of spoken word vignettes extracted from a play by Beliz Güçbilmez called Noises in my Head, set to haunting, austere and minimal but incredibly powerful sound and music composed by Joe. This was a mesmeric and introverted session, yet sonically deeply spatial and architectural. 

July the 20th coincided with the celebration of the first moon landing, so Ed decided we should throw a moon party, really a precursor to the Party on the Moon, a party long in the works for Sonic Sphere that will be hosted in 2030. For this party though, we played a KA classic, a work by Merijn Royaards especially composed for Burning Man 2022, featuring a collage of NASA recordings to simulate a rocket launch, slowly morphing into an ambient journey across time and space. The amazing Ivy Fu had composed another space inspired work, based on Mars landings, and of course, the party wouldn’t have been complete without Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

The super duo Amanda Lind and Stephon Alexander treated Sonic Sphere to a partially improvised, deeply spatial ambisonic work. The sound design for Diminished Doorways followed a melodic thread including field recordings taken in doorways, over thresholds, and in various environments, inviting the listener to follow along and render the details of air quality, temperature, and scale in the mind’s eye. The use of sound to make space move through the listener was as powerful as it was boundary pushing, and the incredible virtuosity of saxophonist  Stephon Alexander was gently spatialized live in what became a synergy between spatial mixer Merijn Royaards and Stephon; they were improvising together, architecturally.

The Emmy Award winning composer Rolfe Kent has been part of Sonic sphere from iteration 6 (KA6), and his works have always been instant hits. Characterized by simple but hyper-effective uses of spatial placement, Rolfe has truly mastered our instrument as his own. As the programme exclaimed: ‘Enter the music, join the composition, and throw your own ecstatic howl into the massed chorus of voices as the air trembles in song.’, and rolfe’s session delivered and went beyond all expectations. Rolfe conducted an experience combining specially composed 360-degree music within Sonic Sphere with choral audience participation to create a sonic medley that resonated through the audience’s mind and body. The audience was invited to explore the space, experience music architecturally from different listen-points, sonic perspectives. They were also made an integral part of the music by singing harmonies, adding to melodies, and using body percussion to spice up the drum tracks, all done live, and crucially in space. Rolfe’s session truly was a ear-opener to all of us. It showed what was possible when sonic Sphere is played as the instrument of consciousness it was designed as, collectively.

For our final Lab Session, Electronic music duo FOSS (Romain Collin and Jeremy Loucas) had created a bespoke show for Sonic Sphere’s lights and surround-sound system. With tape machines and tape loops, live sampling, modular synthesizers, and vocals, their music blended songwriting with ambient experimental soundscapes. It was a fitting end to our lab sessions, with haunting melodies and musical virtuosity enveloping the sphere and captivating the audience.

The fruit of all the labour: overjoyed audiences

The Lab sessions were a mode that showed both the potential of Sonic Sphere as an instrument and community space, since these sessions  and confirmed that ‘bigger-is-better’ is inversely true when it comes to the cultural standing of artists. The deeply talented and exponentially more future-oriented local artists who worked on the Lab Sessions were instant converts to our engine of experience/ conscience, and are still fully engaged members of our collective.

Further thanks

With almost forty team members coming together in NYC for various lengths of time, many requiring accommodation in NYC, we were deeply grateful to Will Zeng, Gillian Morris, Ryan Kalb, Yael Ginosar and many other generous souls who provided free accommodation and no little emotional support to the team. Equally, the reception we received in NYC from Dustin Yellin, the Lightning Society, Jonathan Langer and many others I’m doubtless forgetting.   

The final team gathering after all was said and done