Tony Myatt is a sound artist, engineer and academic who specialises in spatial audio production - the creation of three-dimensional sound projections for sound installation art, film and live audio performances.
He is Head of the Department of Music and Media at the University of Surrey. Tony’s research and teaching focus on contemporary aesthetics in electronic and computer music; spatial sound reproduction and recording; the composition and performance of computer music and contemporary audio art.
For more than ten years, Tony has worked closely with artists Chris Watson and Jana Winderen on the creation and presentation of their spatial audio installations and performances. Tony employs audio production and presentation techniques informed by research in human spatial perception to realise sound installations, which employ a variety of contemporary spatial sound projection technologies.
Much of his work is focused on contemporary sound art projects whose motivations and apprehension rely on convincing and immersive spatial audio reproductions of wildlife and natural phenomena. These are often employed to promote themes relating to the conservation of species, an awareness of rare, inaccessible and threatened habitats, understanding the impacts of climate-change and species threatened by human action.
In 2008, Tony developed an object-based spatial audio system and a large body of audio works for Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary’s (TB-A 21) The Morning Line sound pavilion, for the 2008 Seville Biennial, 2010 Istanbul European City of Culture, 2011-12 Schwarzenbergplatz Vienna and now permanently installed at the Centre for Art and Media Technology Karlsruhe (ZKM), Germany.
Tony has also developed audio production and performance software for Yasunao Tone (including mp3 Deviation and AI Deviation V1 and V2), and worked on a number of spatial audio releases including Russell Haswell’s IN IT (Immersive Live Salvage) (eMego 115) and Leyfðu Ljósinu (Touch TO:90) with composer and musician Hildur Guðnadóttir (Chernobyl and Joker).
He has also collaborated on spatial sound projects with: Mark Fell, Roc Jiménez de Cisneros, Jónsi & Alex, Carlos Casas, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Lee Ranaldo, Tommi Grönlund & Petteri Nisunen, Christian Fennesz, Bryce Dessner, Carsten Nicolai, Florian Hecker, Bruce Gilbert, Peter Zinovieff, AK Dolven, Terre Thaemlitz and Finnborgi Pétursson.
Tony’s work has been exhibited and performed at MoMA, New York; Tate Modern, London; Foundation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris; GES-2 gallery, Moscow; Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), Troy, NY; Arter, Istanbul; Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo; Park Ave. Road Tunnel, New York; US Embassy, Oslo; as part of Dark MoFu festival for MONA, Hobart; Kielder Forest, UK; Le Fresnoy, France; Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik, Croatia.
In 2019, the cinema release of Tony’s live-film collaboration with Chris Watson and Carlos Casas, Sanctuary/Cemetery, was awarded Prix de la Fondation Culturelle Meta, Prix Marseille Espérance and Mention Spéciale du Jury Lycéens at the Marseille International Film Festival.
Tony is the author of numerous academic papers on spatial audio, and contributed a recent chapter, titled Sound Pavilions, to MIT Press’ landmark and genre-defining publication Sound Art (2019), edited by Peter Weibel.
Tony was a founding editor of CUP’s Organised Sound; An International Journal of Music and Technology.
Areas of specialism
University roles and responsibilities
- Head of the Department of Music and Media
06 JAN 2021
Music and media enables the world to hear the music of overlooked Black composer Florence Price
21 MAY 2019
Stressbusting Surrey garden collaboration wins coveted silver-gilt medal at RHS Chelsea Flower Show
26 MAR 2019
Professor takes podium at globally renowned concert hall to showcase unique immersive audio technology
12 MAR 2019
University of Surrey celebrates the power of plants as anti-stress garden comes to RHS Chelsea Flower Show
The hyperbolic parabolas of Xenakis’ Philips Pavilion for Brussels Expo 58 have resonated through the canon of post-war architecture. The structure has become an icon of the modern and heralded as one of the most significant moments in the history of twentieth-century electronic music for its use of spatialised sound. Architectural pavilions are regularly exhibited throughout the world. They range from student experiments such as the UK Architectural Association’s Summer Pavilions series to site-specific 2 interventions in the manner of Benoît le Thierry d’Ennequin and Yves Pagès's entrance-pavilion for the Palace of Versailles in France. London’s Serpentine Gallery has commissioned temporary pavilions from some of the world’s most prominent architects and artists for their annual series since 2000. This has included work by Hadid, Libeskind, Eliasson, Gehry, Herzog & de Meuron and Radić. Pavilions as a vehicle to explore architectural form, architectural sites and new construction materials, or simply to express the joy of architectural virtuosity, have become rooted in contemporary architectural practice. Curiously, sound and spatialised sound have become prominent infiltrators in this architectural laboratory, following the example of the Philips Pavilion in Brussels. Writings and discussions of Xenakis’ work for the Le Corbusier pavilion have established the Philips Pavilion with an almost mythical status. Its sound projection of Varèse’s Poème Électronique and Xenakis’ sound work Interlude Sonore, subsequently titled Concret PH, featured during the audiences’ entrance to and exit from the pavilion, the pavilion’s sonic and multi-media experience, and particularly the technologies used to create its postwar technical wonder, continue to intrigue; despite our inability to experience the work or to understand our own response to it following its demolition in 1959. But the work has left a thread of an idea that has remained with us; the potential to combine and potentially unify architectural, sonic and visual experiences. As technologies and practice in the field have developed since 1958, we now look towards a future where greater and more complex control of sound may begin to rival the architectural substance of the pavilion, and perhaps a shift towards the realization of Varèse, Stockhausen and many other composers’ visions of true spatial music; an architecture of sound alone. There are also experiential dimensions within current spatial audio practices and, through the use of spatial audio technologies, questions about the nature of our spatial perception and our engagement with space and sound art are beginning to emerge. Audio that can reproduce sophisticated, polyphonic and perceptually “believable” sound environments has the potential to introduce convincing representations of remote sound environments, to generate superpositions of space, or to create powerfully convincing sound field reproductions that might lead our perception beyond architectural delineations of space. This perceptual space, apprehended through sound alone, can juxtapose inside and outside-spaces, allow listeners to move through a work of spatial music as they wish, to explore the audio constituents of a work for themselves in the same way that they might explore a physical architectural construction. A number of architects and sound artists have sought to integrate spatial constructions of sound, light and structural form following the model of the Philips Pavilion, often striving for a holistic observer experience. As one might expect within the early twenty-first century’s zeitgeist of conceptual, poststructural and environmentally focused artistic themes, the unification of architectural and audio space has taken many directions away from the goals of Varèse, Xenakis and Le Corbusier, but their approach still permeates the discipline. The concept of a sound pavilion moves beyond theatres, the cinema or notionally “immersive” virtual environments. It has become an experiential space where artists often strive to dissolve the dividing lines between disciplines; it blurs distinctions between what might constitute a work of architecture, sound art, spatial music, a designed environment, a performance, a sound installation or simply a framing or re-presentation of our experience of the world per se through sound. The following text highlights works that have taken forward the concept of the sound pavilion. It discusses current practices along with the impact and potential of technological developments for sound projection and architecture. The text discusses links between architectural space and contemporary sound art, audio evolutions from the sound pavilion’s modernist starting points towards contemporary focuses on materiality and experiential work in audio, and themes that have emerged from more than fifty years of sound pavilion practice.
Myatt, A. and Lennox, P. 2011. Perceptual cartoonification in multi-spatial sound systems, Proc. 17th International Conference on Auditory Display, Budapest, Hungary.
Myatt, A. and Malham, D.G. 2010. Audio Spatialization for The Morning Line, Proc of the 128th Convention of the Audio Engineering Society, London, UK. (Also be featured as an AES Tutorial Paper on the Audio Engineering Society web site.)
Myatt, A. et al 2010. Yasunao Tone and MP3 Disruption, Proceedings of the International Conference on Computer Music, ICMA, New York, US.
Lennox, P., Myatt, T. & Scavone, G. (ed.) 2007 Concepts of perceptual significance for composition and reproduction of explorable surround sound fields, Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Auditory Display. p. 208-212.
Myatt, A. and Malham DG. 1995, Three Dimensional Sound Spatialisation Using Ambisonic Techniques, Computer Music Journal, Vol.19 No.4, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, USA, pp58-70.
Myatt, A. 2002. Strategies for interaction in Construction 3, Organised Sound: Vol. 7, no. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 157-169.
Myatt, A. Lennox, P. and Vaughan, J. 1999. From Surround Sound to True 3D, Proceedings of Audio Engineering Society 16th International Conference, AES, Rovanearme, Finland.
Myatt, A., Lennox, P., Vaughan, J. 2001. 3-D Audio as an Information- Environment, AES 19th International Conference on Surround Sound, Schloss Elmau, Germany.
Selected audio works
Placentia Bay, 2013, Touch Music, London, UK.
after via gleam, 2007 WPA/Cocoran Gallery, colorfield.remix
Roundabout, 2009. Co-created with Russell Haswell. Ambisonic, with-height audio artwork.
Aldeburgh Beach Sequence, 2009 and Slide 2009, Aldeburgh LISTEN event, curated by Russell Haswell, commissioned by the Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh supported by the Paul Hamlin Trust and Loudwater Investment Partner Ltd.
untitled 3, live performance for nested sound systems (41 channels) (30 mins), premiere HFG, Karlsruhe, June 2007.
After via gleam, (7 mins) 2007, electronic composition, finalist colorfield-remix Washington US, first performed June 2007, Cocoran Gallery Washington DC. USA.
G, no B, (15 mins) 2006, electronic composition for live interactive algorithm and FM synthesis, premiere Rymer Auditorium, York 2006.
Lizard Solitude, (30 mins) 2005, sound installation to accompany the paintings of Barrie Cook, Royal Truro Galleries. Truro, Cornwall, April 2005. Also Worcester City Art Gallery 3/9/5.
L'infinitá, for computer generated electronic tape (15mins) (1999).
Chaotic Constructions (1997), installation for kinetic sculpture and computer generated soundtracks (with Peter Fluck), Tate St Ives.
Chaotic Constructions 2 (1999), for computer and kinetic sculpture (with Peter Fluck), exhibited at mobiles@RIBA exhibition, Royal Institute of British Architects, London, 16th Feb - 16th April 1999, and Kube Gallery Poole, UK.
Construction 3 (2001), for saxophone, computer and sculptural forms (with Peter Fluck), commissioned by the European Commission, IST programme under Framework 5, premiered Curt Sachs Saal, Berlin on the 9th December 2001.
The Morning Line, exhibition 2 October 2008 - 24 January 2010, Seville Biennial of Contemporary Art 2008, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville, Spain. With Florian Hecker (De), Chris Watson(UK), Bruce Gilbert (UK), Lee Ranaldo(US), Bryce Dessner(US), Evan Ziporyn(US), Roc Jimenez de Cisneros (Es) and Mark Fell (UK), Matthew Ritchie(US).
The Morning Line, exhibition 22 May - 22 November 2010, Eminönü Square, as part of the European Capital of Culture 2010 Istanbul. Turkey. With artists Jana Winderen (NO), Peter Zinovieff (UK), Carl Michael von Hausswolff (SE), Yasunao Tone(JP/US), Erdem Helvacıoğlu(TR), Cevdet Erek(TR), Batuhan Bozkurt(TR), and Mehmet Can Özer(TR).
The Morning Line, exhibition 7 June - 20 November 2011 Schwarzenbergplatz, Vienna, Austria.With artists Frantz Pomassl (AT), Alexej Borisov (Russia), Tommi Grönlund & Petteri Nisunen (Finland), Christian Fennesz (Austria), Carsten Nicolai (Germany), Zsolt Olejnik (Hungary), Finnbogi Petursson (Iceland), Terre Thaemlitz (USA), Zavoloka (Ukraine).