Jonathan Openshaw, August 19, 2013
Hovering halfway between fine art and mad scientist, Sonice Development is a Berlin based collective who have built a reputation for creating powerful urban installations and interventions.
Working across a range of projects and mediums, Sonice takes on commercial work as well as their own studio-initiated projects. It’s a diverse practice that makes the group somewhat difficult to pigeonhole, with each project covering new ground. Starting out with a prototype of an automated paintball machine capable of creating complex graphics across hard to reach urban facades, they have since moved installation, light mapping and have also had a stab at teleportation.
Even the company founders struggled to define their remit at first: “we thought we might be a tech startup in the beginning,” explains cofounder Julian Adenauer, “revolutionising the way that urban facades are painted, or how communication might work in a crisis. But slowly we realised that this machine was not a finish line but a start – that the inventing and creating is what we want to do, not the selling part”.
This realisation opened up a whole new experimental field – one where new machines and technical processes were constantly toyed with to create new experiences, rather than having the mechanism as the end product. “We’re inventing our own tools, and then play with them to understand their characteristics and qualities”.
Having studied mechatronics before joining designers Michael Haas and Martin Fussenegger to found Sonice, Adenauer’s background was firmly rooted in the technological and digital. “Bringing code to life is really a kind of magic for me,” he explains. “Michael sees things from almost the opposite direction though – he is fascinated by the ability to animate physical objects by digital means”. It’s an integrated approach that means neither the digital nor physical aspects of a piece get overlooked, creating a powerfully immersive engagement with digital wizardry.
There’s a natural synergy with commercial brands here, and in the five years since launch the studio has worked with clients ranging from Nike to Converse to Wieden + Kennedy. “We always want to make great artwork. No matter if it’s commissioned by a brand or purely for us. It is essential for a good collaboration that both sides look good and nobody looses his credibility, but up to now we had a lot of luck and worked with some great clients. We learned a lot from those collaborations,” explains Adenauer.
With brands increasingly looking to explore less trodden consumer touch points, and create user experiences that have genuine creative value, companies like Sonice are becoming an essential bridge between worlds.
Sonice Development are currently participating in the Saatchi Gallery’s Red Never Follows exhibition in collaboration with Hugo Boss, until September 1st 2013. For more on Sonice Development click here.