Installations & Performances

Monheim Triennale ll | June 3rd – July 2nd 2023

“From the Mara to Monheim”, 2023
Grove at the Wanderparkplatz (hikers’ car park)

The project of the English musician and sound artist Chris Watson plays with the idea of meteorological temperature inversion (also: reversal weather situation), which carries sounds of an equatorial soundscape from a river woodland in the Masai Mara, a nature reserve in Kenya, into a small inner-city grove near the old town of Monheim am Rhein.
A temperature inversion is a weather phenomenon that occurs when air temperature increases with altitude and colder air near the ground is trapped by a warmer layer of air above. Under these conditions, sound waves are reflected from the boundary layer back to the ground, causing sound to travel much farther than usual.

FOCUS – 17 & 18 March 2023 / Centquatre-Paris

17+18 Mars 2023
Centquatre-Paris – Salle 400
5 Rue Curial, Paris 75019
Tarif : 5€


VENDREDI 17 20h00

Folke RABE « Was?? »
Chris WATSON – Nouvelle œuvre – Création, commande INA grm

SAMEDI 18 20H00

Felicity MANGAN
Éliane RADIGUE « Koumé »

Listen to the Swing | The Wallace Collection

Having undergone gentle cleaning and restoration, The Swing has revealed previously hidden details. These immerse you in a woodland scene in where you can almost hear the birds sing. Chris Watson, one of the world’s leading wildlife recordists, has responded to this and created a special composition for the Wallace Collection that explores the painting through sound. Here is Chris, discussing his work:

‘Gazing into The Swing [Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s (1732–1806)], I was immediately drawn to the painting’s sheer vivacity and imagined the alarms of a nearby blackbird on discovering the scene. The foreground colour and detail are represented by the quiet flow of water from below and the gentle creak of rope carrying the amused young woman to and fro.

The surrounding woodland is full of birdsong; a mistle thrush, robin, nuthatch and several leaf warblers contribute to a rich chorus. From the depths of the forest behind, red deer stags bellow in rivalry to compete for the hinds. To conclude, a nightingale sings from cover, an expression of desire to draw down a partner from above.

The woodland chorus was recorded in the Forêt de Chaux, the nightingale song is from the nearby Arc et Senans and the red deer were recorded at Légrillou in the Pyrenees’.

You can listen to The Swing here

Organ Reframed: Chris Watson & Claire M Singer | London, Saturday 17th Sept 2022

The world premiere of Voci del Vento, an immersive aural journey from Pole to Pole
By Chris Watson and Claire M Singer

Union Chapel, London
7:15PM Saturday 17 Sept 2022

In a world-premiere, award-winning sound recordist, Chris Watson (David Attenborough’s long-term collaborator on the ‘Life’ series and recent collaborator on Chernobyl by Oscar winner Hildur Guðnadóttir) and award-winning composer Claire M Singer (known for her experimental approach to organ and her critically acclaimed releases on Touch) will present their new, multichannel diffusion work for field recordings, organ, the London Contemporary Orchestra and Choir.

“I’m genuinely excited by the prospect of collaborating with Claire and the LCO in creating a global journey through a range of acoustic landscapes” – Chris Watson

Chernobyl Live, Tasmania | 16-17th June 2022


The haunting score of TV series ‘Chernobyl’, performed live by its creators in a special industrial facility. A sound that altered the face of TV music, the original score features noise recorded by the composer inside the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant in Lithuania.

Support for Ukraine: All proceeds from the performance will be donated to Voices of Children, a charity providing support assistance to Ukrainian children and families affected by the Russian invasion.

Warning: Stroboscopic effects

Commissioned by Dark Mofo, Unsound, the Barbican + Rewire

A Journey of 3 Realms | 27th May – 5th June 2022

Chris Watson has been commissioned by Wye Valley River Festival UK to produce a piece of work titled ‘A Journey of 3 Realms’ – a spatial audio dream journey presented in the beautiful surroundings of the iconic Tintern Abbey from 27th May – 5th June 2022. With sound spatialisation by Tony Myatt the piece will take the listener from sunrise within the abbey grounds to the waters of the river Wye, flow into the mighty Severn Estuary, out into the deep Atlantic Ocean and south west to the Caribbean Sea.

Namib – Sound Installation at Indexical, Santa Cruz for Touch.40 | 29-30th April 2022

In 2022 Touch (Chris Watson’s label and publisher) will celebrate forty years of activity; so we thought we’d organize a few events to mark this achievement, not only to reflect on the long journey but also cast our eyes on what the future might hold for the creative arts. This multi-channel sound event in Santa Cruz, California, takes place April 29th-30th 2022.

You can read an interview with Chris about this piece here


Extending over 2,000 miles down the Atlantic coast of West and South Africa, the Namib desert is an ancient and unique landscape; a vast mobile ocean of sand where humans mostly fear to tread.

‘Namib’ is a multi-channel composition created from location recordings made over the last eight years from the Skeleton coast to remote interior dunes.

The piece reflects a timescale beyond our reckoning; it aims to compress 50 million years of evolution into a 20 minute surround soundscape.

‘Namib’ will trace the sound shift created by a dense Atlantic fog bank as it swirls inland before sunrise and transforms the acoustics around the huge sandstone outcrops along the bone dry banks of the Kuiseb river. This event brings moisture and life to the flora and fauna whilst the reduced visibility allows the listener to tune into one of the few spaces left on our planet not smeared with noise pollution.

The Namib is a place to listen back in time, above and below the surface. The piece reveals the deep rhythms and sound of an evolving sand dune, from individual grains to moving mountain as it creeps in advance of the prevailing winds.

After dark, the dunes, cliffs and valleys are patrolled by an emerging alien empire. Insects vibrate and sing into the night air – a vital and dangerous practice as advertising for a mate also sends signals to the acute auditory senses of predators, large and small, that stalk amongst the stillness of the sands. [Chris Watson, January 25th 2022]

Indexical and tickets

‘Namib’ will be introduced by Mike Harding and is part of a series of events celebrating 40 years of Touch.

Chernobyl Live, Athens | Sunday 10th October 2021

This year’s programme features a huge, world-class surprise concert.  Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir (winner of an Academy Award for Best Original Score for the film Joker) invites audiences to Peiraios 260 for a live performance of her Grammy-winning soundtrack for the acclaimed HBO television series Chernobyl. Recorded in a decommissioned nuclear plant in Lithuania, Guðnadóttir’s haunting soundscapes will now be recreated live against the backdrop of the Festival’s beloved industrial venue at Peiraios 260.

Ruhrtriennale @ Maschinenhalle Zweckel, Gladbeck, Germany | 14th August 2021



Chris Watson Morgenchor (2021) spacial sound piece (World Premiere)
Maurice Ravel Gaspard de la nuit
Salvatore Sciarrino De la nuit

Shortly before sunrise, the spirits of the night dance their last dance. When Maurice Ravel wrote his ghostly pieces Gaspard de la nuit he was constantly confronted by the imminent death of his father. His walk along the border between this life and the next moves back and forth between seriousness, grotesque and mythical fantasy, but it is characterised most of all by an almost superhuman, transcendental virtuosity.

The young French pianist Virginie Déjos not only confronts Ravel’s ghosts but also the spirit behind these ghosts: in a short composition by the Italian Salvatore Sciarrino entitled De la nuit, he stirs up scraps of memories from Ravel’s Gaspard, dreamily and at breakneck speed, only to make them vanish again in a moment as if into nothingness.

Both of these compositions are embedded in a concert installation commissioned by the Ruhrtriennale from the British sonic artist Chris Watson – a founder member of the electro-industrial band Cabaret Voltaire and a sound recordist on David Attenborough’s famous nature films for the BBC – who will use soundscapes recorded shortly before, during and after sunrise to draw horizontal and vertical axes through the historical strata past and present of the Ruhr and its sister region in the North of England and connect them both through sound.

Relic: Maggi Hambling & Chris Watson

An installation at Snape Maltings 2 June – 31 August 2021

Relic is an installation by the artist Maggi Hambling and sound recordist Chris Watson, presented by Britten Pears Arts at Snape Maltings.

Each artist in their own practice responds to the melting of the polar icecaps: Hambling through her series of Edge paintings first shown in 2017, and Watson through his location sound recordings. In this collaboration, the audience is confronted with the gradual, man-made disaster through expanded senses of sound and vision. As if on the threshold of a dream, chaos clashes with order, night meets day, primordial forms rise out of the dissolving icecap to confront the visitor with our destruction of the planet.

Ephemera Festival, Warsaw | 12-13th September 2020

Ephemera is a new multi-arts festival based in Warsaw, presented by Kraków’s Unsound.

Although this inaugural edition has been limited in size due to the pandemic, it nevertheless indicates the bold concept – a festival where music, dance, theatre and visual arts reverberate with one another across the city, presented with Warsaw’s vital cultural activists, organisations and institutions.

Hildur Guðnadóttir presents Chernobyl (feat. Chris Watson & Sam Slater)

Icelander Hildur Guðnadóttir is no stranger to experimental music fans, but has now received wider recognition for her score to the hit TV series Chernobyl, for which she was awarded an Emmy and Grammy, as well as her Oscar and Golden Globe-winning score for Joker.

The live presentation of the music of Chernobyl is much more than “just” the brilliant score. The performance is a unique, layered experience, incorporating recordings from Chernobyl’s sister power plant Ignalina in Lithuania, as well as Hildur’s voice, to create an immersive multichannel work for industrial spaces.

To present the piece, Hildur is joined by Sam Slater and field recordist Chris Watson, artists who helped realise her vision for the TV score. The innovative lighting is by Theresa Baumgartner, and spatialisation by Francesco Donadello, helping craft the sound that comes from all around the room, sometimes so soft it doesn’t feel amplified, sometimes so loud it feels it could push you over.

Due to the pandemic, this is now only one of two Chernobyl live shows taking place internationally this year, with the harrowing music having taken on new layers of meaning. Taking place in a former printworks, the show will be presented according to very strict rules to ensure that it is as safe as possible in respect to COVID-19, rules that will also become a part of the experience itself, an experiment in how live music can be presented in 2020’s harsh reality.

Chernobyl Live is commissioned by Unsound, Dark Mofo, the Barbican London and Rewire.

Landing EN

Inside the Circle of Fire

A Sheffield Sound Map by Chris Watson
(2020 stereo version)

Chris Watson is a BAFTA-winning sound recordist whose work has taken him to furthest reaches of the globe. In 2013 we commissioned him to create a work about Sheffield, his home city.

Chris made recordings all over Sheffield, from the outskirts at Blacka Moor to busy Fargate and from Forgemasters to the vast drainage tunnels under the Station. Inside the Circle of Fire invites us to listen to Sheffield’s unique soundtrack of people, industry and nature, and remember the waterways that continue to flow through it, from its borders in the Peak District all the way to its bustling heart.

Chris has generously revisited his original work, which used ambisonic technology to create a fully immersive soundscape in the gallery, turning it into a stereo experience that is best listened to using headphones. The work is accompanied by photographs taken by Alan Silvester, Digital Producer at Museums Sheffield.

A Journey South | Belfast 13th February 2020

Thursday 13 February, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Suitability: 14 Yrs+

Sonic Arts Research Centre
Queens University Belfast
Cloreen Park
Belfast BT9 5HN

Experience a sound journey to the Antarctic and the South Pole, with sound recordist and musician Chris Watson. This audio-visual tour includes recordings made during the BBC series Frozen Planet – the sounds of glaciers calving, Adelie penguins, orcas hunting, and Weddell seals singing under the sea ice – and concludes at the South Pole, at the location of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated journey in 1912. The sound journey is accompanied by narration from Chris and images to illustrate the locations.

This event is part of Antarctica Insight, a UK wide cultural programme marking the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica.

The Ice Mountain | King’s Place, London 2020

“Our Artist in Residence for Nature Unwrapped, Chris Watson, has created a sound calendar of environments from the northern hemisphere. In November and December you will be hearing sounds from the Tunabreen glacier on the island of Svalbard. Come early to enjoy the installation beginning half an hour before the performances in Hall One.”

Chris writes: “At latitude 78 degrees north, the progress of the Tunabreen glacier on the island of Svalbard towards the Arctic Ocean is fractional in winter. The movement of this massive river of ice is imperceptible but not silent. The sheer weight of freshwater ice at the head of the glacier shifts and grinds everything in its path and my hydrophones, fixed deep into a narrow crevasse, reveal an uncanny heartbeat-like pulse.

Further towards the ocean, house-sized blocks of ‘pressure ridges’ fracture, and their subsequent vibrations seem reminiscent of 1960s pioneering electronic music.

Finally, the freshwater shards mix and merge with the frozen slush of coastal sea ice and create a waveless coastline, below which bearded seals sing their haunting songs in the blackness”

This sound installation can be heard from 13 November until the end of December 2020 ahead of all Nature Unwrapped concerts taking place in Hall One. Access to the installation requires a concert ticket for the relevant main event in Hall One.

Ears to the Ground

organ reframed, London | 27-28th March 2020

On the 27th March 2020 the fourth annual organ reframed returns to Union Chapel with a programme packed full of innovative music. Alongside headline performances, the two-day international festival will also feature talks, masterclasses, an interactive soundscape and family-friendly workshops.

organ reframed launches with three new works composed and performed by artists known for redefining their fields: Anna von Hausswolff renowned for her gothic organ creations, enigma Abul Mogard a synth visionary, and Ipek Gorgun a composer of energetic, textural masterpieces. All three works for organ, electronics and the London Contemporary Orchestra will push Union Chapel’s sonic possibilities to the extreme.

The Saturday afternoon will see the chapel transformed by sounds and rhythms echoing the seasonal shift of the Highland year. This free installation by Chris Watson and Claire M Singer will feature the wind, weather and animals of Scotland. These sounds will interact with the organ played by James McVinnie, Katherine Tinker and Jacob Lekkerkerker.

The festival concludes on Saturday evening with the world premiere of Voci del Vento by Chris Watson and Claire M Singer. This collaborative work will combine organ, field recordings, modular synths, the London Contemporary Orchestra and Choir to transport audiences on an epic journey from pole to pole.

Chris Watson, is a founding member of the influential experimental music group Cabaret Voltaire. He is famously known for his recording of wildlife sound for David Attenborough’s documentaries and his ground-breaking work on Grammy nominated Chernobyl, with Hildur Gudnadottir. His 2003 release Weather Report was voted as one of the 100 best albums to hear before you die by The Guardian.

Speaking about the festival Chris Watson said, “I’m thrilled by the prospect of bringing the natural world into the musically inspiring environment of Union Chapel and collaborating with Claire M Singer for the next Organ Reframed”. Claire M Singer is known for her experimental approach to the organ and for her critically acclaimed releases on the prolific label Touch.

organ reframed is brought to you by Union Chapel Project, in partnership with the London Contemporary Orchestra and Spitfire Audio with generous support from Arts Council England and the Institute of Physics.

Tickets and full line up information are now available from Union Chapel

Caught by the River @ Port Eliot | 25-28th July 2019

Caught by the River at Port Eliot Festival 2019

Project X: Tasmania | June 6th – 23rd 2019

Venture south and explore large-scale public art in Tasmania’s Huon Valley. Project X will present a series of major artworks in the Huon, with the aim of bringing visitors back to the south in the wake of the bushfires that recently ravaged the island.

Project X will open at Dark Mofo 2019 with Hrafn: Conversations with Odinby Chris Watson and The Wired Lab. More info about Project X artworks will be announced soon.

A DarkLab project, supported by the Australian government and the Tasmanian government through Tourism Tasmania, and Mona. DarkLab acknowledges the support of Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, and Events Tasmania.

EartH Hackney, London | Sunday 19th May

The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish with Plants: A Festival on Plant Intelligence
EartH Hackney
11-17 Stoke Newington Road London N16 8BH
Sunday 19th May 1-11pm

Chris Watson, Salmo salar – The Three Realms, on location Croquet Head, commissioned by Serpentine Galleries and L-Acoustics on the occasion of The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish, 2019.

“Most people who bother to think about plants at all tend to regard them as the mute, immobile furniture of our world—useful enough, and generally attractive, but obviously second-class citizens in the republic of life on Earth.” (Stefano Mancuso)

The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish with Plants is a multidisciplinary festival that brings together artists, scientists, writers, anthropologists and musicians for talks, performances, screenings and listening sessions that raise and address some of the most urgent questions facing all of us.

“Sanctuary” Carlos Casas, Chris Watson, and Tony Myatt, EMPAC, Troy, USA | 22nd March 2019

After a devastating earthquake, Nga, an old elephant and probably the last of his kind, and Sanra, his mahout, embark on a journey to find the mythical elephant’s graveyard. A story of discovery and mourning in which the spectator becomes the protagonist, the film follows the duo as they are stalked closely by a group of poachers, who begin to die one after another under mysterious circumstances.

Carlos Casas’s Sanctuary offers a mesmerizing sonic and visual cinematic environment that immerses the audience in the sounds, textures, and hues of the jungle. Projected on the mega-screen in EMPAC’s Concert Hall, and featuring live Ambisonics, Wavefield Synthesis, and infrasound to induce a deep sense of physical closeness with the elephant, Sanctuary presents a unique sensorial experience that collapses the boundaries between art, nature documentary, and adventure film.

Chris Watson collaborated with the bioacoustician and elephant communication expert Joyce Poole to record the acoustic sphere of elephants. Tony Myatt developed the infrasound speaker and implemented the spatial audio. Both will perform live on the speaker systems installed throughout the hall. This is the US premiere of the project, which was previously presented at the Fondation Cartier, Paris; the Tate Modern, London; and the Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels.

“Okeanos” Chris Watson and Tony Myatt – EMPAC, Troy, USA | 20th March 2019

Okeanos takes the audience on an auditory underwater journey around the globe. Years of recordings from pole to pole will be performed with three audio systems in the Concert Hall: a dome of 64 loudspeakers used to project sounds around the audience in an Ambisonic environment, a Wave Field Synthesis array, consisting of hundreds of small speakers placed above the audience, and a custom-built infrasound speaker used to create the lowest frequencies, which can be more felt than heard. The composition will include songs, signals, and vibrations from the smallest crustaceans to the loudest and largest animals ever to have existed.

Chris Watson and Tony Myatt will perform a version of the work specifically developed for EMPAC’s Concert Hall and its audio systems. This new version will also integrate sound materials recorded on the Northeastern coast of the US and humpback whale recordings from the Silver Banks (Dominican Republic).