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Siren [2004]

An amazing spectacle - The Daily Telegraph

A precise piece of theatre - The Glasgow Herald ***** Herald Angel Winner at Edinburgh Fringe 07

We are literally watching sound as it moves through space - The Age, Melbourne

Siren is a spectacular performance piece that takes place within an installation of large sound sculptures; metal tripods with rotating arms that emit electronic drones. Two performers move with the mass of swirling metal, tuning the drones to create a hypnotic composition and controlling the machinery to create a stunning audio visual spectacle.

It has recently been reconfigured into a computer controlled kinetic installation that can run automatically for several months with minimal maintenance.

The work can be equally at home as part of contemporary music events, live art, visual theatre, and contemporary visual art. It fuses elements of kinetic art, electronic music and live art performance in a theatrical context. Originally developed as an installation in a former US Air Force base in North Oxfordshire Siren has gone on to become a major international ‘hit’, touring around the world to widespread critical and audience acclaim. At its sold out performances in the Edinburgh Fringe 2007, Siren attracted 5* reviews and was awarded a Herald Angel award. Since then the work has been toured to over 12 countries including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and all over Europe, where it has been presented at major arts festivals in partnership with the British Council. The performances last 45 minutes and performances can be repeated a number of times during a day / evening slot. Audience capacity per performance depends largely on the venue but can be up to 300 per performance in larger spaces.

Read more about the sound world of Siren and touring dates:
the sound world of siren:

This ‘choir of rotating sirens’ creates an audio visual spectacle that is essentially a live experience. Wherever you stand in the space it sounds different. As the arms rotate, the sound pulses past the listener with a Doppler-like effect, while the cluster of closely tuned oscillators creates a rich and pervasive sound world. A minimalist phasing of the rhythmic pulses emerges as the varying speeds of rotation of the arms makes the pulsing tones phase against each other in a constantly evolving polyrhythmic structure. The closeness of the tuning of the separate tones sets off a series of overtones that evoke the sense of an ethereal choir. background:

Siren was first performed in Hanger 3022 of Upper Heyford Airbase in October 2004.


supported by Arts Council England, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford Contemporary Music

performers: Ray Lee, Harry Dawes, Mike Rugnetta

produced by: Simon Chatterton

technicians: Stavroula Kounadea, Graham Elstone, Tony James

Mesmerizing - New Yorker

Remarkable work that possesses sculptural, performative, and musical dimensions -

We are literally watching sound as it moves through space - The Age, Melbourne

Taking in Sirens is a bit like ingesting a mild hallucinogen, then waiting for the buzz to hit. And it does hit…- PLANK Magazine, Vancouver

a choir of rotating sirens, their individually strident voices congealing into a thick mutating chord that transfixed listeners in its sticky flux - David Toop, The Wire

The work was called ‘Siren’ because I made thirty spinning sirens that rotate, emitting pulsing electronic tones. I liked the sense of danger that the word conveys, together with the idea of the siren call, luring people towards it. In Hanger 3022, the sirens had inevitable echoes of the site’s history, but for me the work had an elegiac quality. The sound of my sirens is more like an ethereal choir rather than the warning air raid tones you expect from the word siren - Ray Lee

touring and re-staging:

2017 -Attenborough Arts Centre, Brighton UK

  • Matadero, Madrid, Spain (automated version)
  • Coastal Currents Festival, Hastings, UK

2015 - Alhondiga Gallery, Bilbao, Spain (automated version)

2014- SPILL Festival, Ipswich

2012 - Galway Festival, Ireland

2011 - Theatre Trafo, Budapest, Hungary

  • Straw Theatre, Tallinn, Estonia

  • LAB 30 Festival, Augsburg, Germany

2010 - WOMADelaide, Australia.

2009 - Under the Radar festival, New York, USA

  • PUSH International Festival, Vancouver, Canada

  • Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis, USA

  • Wexner Arts Center, Columbus, Ohio, USA

  • Auckland International Festival, New Zealand

  • 10 Days Festival, Tasmania, Australia

  • Melbourne International Festival, Australia

  • Sleepless Night Festival, Miami, USA

2008- Kontejner, Zagreb, Croatia

  • LEV Festival, Laboral, Gijon, Spain

  • Circulo, Tenerife (automated version V1)

  • International Festival of Arts and Ideas, New Haven, USA

  • Gaudeamus Music Festival, Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • Ignite Festival, Royal Opera House, London

2007 - Shunt, London Bridge.

  • Victoria Baths, Manchester, Futuresonic Festival

  • British Council International Showcase, Edinburgh

  • Ars Electronica Festival, Linz, Austria

  • Ponctuation Grande Bretagne, Angers, France

  • Festival les Urbaines, Lausanne, Switzerland

2005 - Festival A/D Werf, Utrecht

2004 - Hanger 3022, disused F1-11 fighter jet hanger at ex-US Airbase, Upper Heyford