Widely considered one of the most storied European electronic music and pop festivals, Sónar is a cultural engine in its own right. Bringing tens of thousands of music lovers and revellers from across Europe (and all over the world) to Barcelona each summer it has always asked questions above and beyond its programme, and conversations about commerce and sustainability have been ‘baked in’ to the festival since its inception in 1994. The most recent iteration of this stocktaking is Sónar+D—a sidebar to the Sónar by Day programme—which was launched three years ago and dedicated to the entangled mesh of creative ecosystems associated with digital culture. Artists, record labels, festival organizers, hardware and software designers, hackathon and open source enthusiasts, startups—From June 18th-20th Sónar+D brought approximately 4,000 cultural producers together to exchange ideas, experience some wild multimedia projects first hand, and party with reckless abandon, and CAN was there to participate in the proceedings.
Sónar+D is a lot like an airport; not in a ‘rushing around maniacally to catch your flight’ kind of way, but in terms of scale and energy. Gigantic and bustling, the congress took place in a ramped structure in Barcelona’s impressive Fira de Montjuic fair/conference facility. With criss-crossing circulation that spanned four floors, the congress was assemblage of cosy lecture halls, ‘hands on’ workshop areas, exhibition spaces, cafes, and more informal lounges. Hordes of delegates streamed through the main thoroughfares and the atmosphere was electric, quite ideal for boisterous conversations about emergent modes of practice.