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The Sonarium

Proposed for 2023 Burning Man Honorarium Program

Lead Artist: Jameson Hubbs


The Sonarium is an immersive audiovisual environment that's powered by human creativity.


The entire space functions as a giant musical instrument, consisting of robotic tongue drums, an LED ceiling, and vibroacoustic bass chambers that are played by participants on user-friendly controllers.

From the outside, the Sonarium welcomes oncomers as a shaded oasis during the day and illuminating tripper trap at night.


Physically, the structure is a wooden gazebo with a spiral addressable LED array in the roof. Shade panels fill the spaces between the lights, allowing the lights to add to the visual landscape of BRC. Three walls provide a decorated exterior, protection from the elements, and offer comfortable lounge spaces for participants to recline inside. Vibrating bass floors and seating offer space for 30-50 participants to lounge, while the central instrument arrays fit 3-8 players. 


Sonically, it consists of tongue drums, bells, spatial audio speakers, and tactile subwoofers in the padded floor and lounge seating that play ambient sequences in response to participant’s spontaneous play on instruments and controllers in the center. 


The art direction is based on the theme of a futuristic temple, with pastel tones, organic geometric forms, and iridescent decor elements. 


The Sonarium isn't a spectacle; it either activates musical play, brings people into a multisensory meditation, or they leave. It is designed to bring wanderers into an embodied experience that sparks connection, introspection, and creative play. 


The spatial layout will direct oncomers to sit, lie down, or walk towards the center where user-friendly instruments and midi controllers will invite spontaneous play. As participants experiment on the instruments, their environment will respond to the music played and trigger lighting animations, ambient soundscapes, and a robotic soundbath orchestra to gamify the process and reward creativity. Everyone else will be literally feeling the music in their body through tactile bass surfaces, spatial audio speakers, and tongue drum bells to sit inside of. Everything will be in the same scale, eliminating the need for prior musical training. 

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