Martin Parker

sonikebana version 1.0

Sonikebana is a long-form composition / sound installation featuring sounds of the local area where the project is shown. Six custom-designed speakers on wheels with on-board computers and sensors manipulate the sounds every time a speaker is moved.

The mp3 file below is a virtualisation of the installation made with recordings taken from Edinburgh’s Meadows as part of the project, hosted by New Media Scotland at St Cecilia’s Hall in April 2018. Sound from each speaker box has been captured and mixed for playback on headphones.

Further details

Sonikebana is an installation or long-form composition that is transformed and shaped by listeners as it happens. Six boxes on wheels each contain a small computer, amplifier, speakers, battery and a compass sensor. Playing through the boxes are sounds recorded in and around the local area where the installation is shown. In the case of the sound file above, it’s the Edinburgh Meadows. As you move the boxes around, the sounds change. If you discovered positions that you like, sit back, lie down, relax and wait for others to shift things. If you want to make a change, intervene.

Sonikebana gets its name from the Japanese art of flower arranging known as Ikebana. Etymologically Ikebana comes from ikeru which can mean ‘keep alive’, whilst hana is flower. The idea of keeping something alive that’s been harvested for its aesthetic value is a key idea that I kept coming back to when designing the sound processing for this project.

The surfaces of the speakers have been laser-etched with drawings and fragments of text by artist Anna Chapman Parker. The drawings are derived from a series of ink drawings, Too evergreen to answer, inspired by a reading of an Alice Oswald poem.

If you’re interested in hosting Sonikebana…

Please get in touch with me at to discuss.

The installation is portable and the boxes can be flat packed and moved in a car, by train or couriered. To make the best of the local sounds I can come the day before the opening to make these and embed them into the project. It should be possible to do this even on the day of the opening if the opening happens in the evening. More time exploring the area will reveal a more unique and diverse set of sounds to work with.

With more advance planning and funding, I can run engagement workshops with school children or other groups. We can make recordings and sound walks together and it is possible to feature some of these recordings in the installation.

Sonically, the piece is atmospheric and peaceful. The speakers aren’t too loud and therefore audience-listener-performers can get close to the speakers, developing relationships with how the speakers react.

The installation works well in spaces ranging between approximately 6-18msq. The floor material has a sonic effect on the installation too. Wooden floors, hard carpets, linoleum work well. Bumpy/industrial floors like rough concrete work less well, but alternativel wheels can be fitted to the boxes to account for this.

For openings with larger audiences, a sound system can be brought in to augment the sound playing from the boxes.


Photos above by Anna Chapman Parker

Project originally funded and developed as part of City Sounds, an Organicity grant hosted at the University of Edinburgh.

Further thanks owed to the following people:

Ewan Klein – for masterminding the CitySounds research project and gathering us all together

Simon Chapple – designer of the bird box recorders based in the Meadows

Mark Daniels – New Media Scotland and host of this event

Catherine Magill – project management and organisation

Thanks also to
Cameron MacLeod – for assistance with Python code to pass compass information across to Pure Data
Ruthanne Baxter – St Cecilia’s Hall
Catriona Gilbert & Malcolm Cruickshank in the Minto House workshops for their tireless and patient help laser etching the speakers
Dee O’Leary & Roderick Buchanan–Dunlop in the Reid School of Music