Waves and Forms, a keynote exhibition by Haroon Mirza at John Hansard Gallery

Waves and Forms, a keynote exhibition by Haroon Mirza at John Hansard Gallery

The next exhibition to come to John Hansard Gallery, part of the University of Southampton,will be Waves and Forms, a keynote exhibition by Haroon Mirza. Running from October 19 to January 11, the exhibition highlights the artist’s ongoing exploration of waveforms: how they are perceived, the emotional and physical responses they create and the various ways in which we relate to them. 

Mirza’s artworks are united by an enduring preoccupation and engagement with diverse disciplines including physics, shamanism, artificial intelligence and astrology. He has won international acclaim for installations that test the interplay and friction between sound waves, light waves and electric current. 

As an advocate of interference, Mirza creates situations that purposefully cross wires. He devises sculptures, performances and immersive installations that skilfully blend ancient and contemporary technologies, offering up composite installations that mix an electric range of materials. 

At John Hansard Gallery, Mirza will fill all the gallery space across both floors, including the distinctive prism gallery, with works focussed on sound, light, electricity and water, and the interaction between these waveforms. He describes himself as a composer, working with physical phenomena and found and created instruments, to create complex works that embrace both the everyday and the sublime. 


Through his work, processes are left exposed and sounds occupy space in an unruly way, testing codes of conduct and charging the atmosphere. /\/\/\ /\/\/\ (2017) takes the form of several elements, including 4-channels of videos, 8-channels of audio, 8-channels of LEDs and a semi-anechoic chamber, which come together throughout the space to make a single work. These elements are combined simultaneously with electrical signal illuminating LEDs and generating sound to create an audio-visual installation that is automated live in 12-channel surround sound. Read as ‘Aquarius’, the zigzag form is a typographic interpretation of the astrological sign and translates an undulating movement as a geometric version of a wave. The work references both constellation and astrological sign, as well as the Age of Aquarius, which the earth is about to enter and heralds an epoch of rediscovered harmony.

Pavilion for Optimisation

Pavilion for Optimisation (2013) is a purpose-built sound chamber designed to create maximum reverberation, with participants invited to enter the chamber and experience the continuous prolongation of a sound. This works takes its central theme from the optimisation algorithms used in satellite navigation, which in turn are derived from the organic networked optimisation logic systems of ant colonies. Understood by chaos theory, these patterns – both chaotic and controlled – are observable across the natural world, from rain descending a window pane to the fractals observable throughout nature and in the human mind through the ingestion of psychedelics. 

Solar Symphony

Solar Symphony Solar_Corb B/ Solar Symphony Solar_Corb D (2014) are freestanding and self-powering sculptures that generate electronic audio compositions, in part governed by the amount of natural light they are exposed to. Commercial solar panels in a modular system are combined with household electronics such as LED lighting and bicycle lights are combined and connected to speaker systems, sometimes directional, to amplify the sound of the electricity passing through them. As the amount of electricity changes in relation to the amount of light the sculptures are exposed to, the Solar Symphonies orchestrate fragmented sound along with subtle LED lights flickering, evoking synaesthetic senses of the audience as they walk into this space filled with light energy, sound and electromagnetic waves. Dream Machine (2019) is a new work in collaboration with Siobhan Coen, who was previously an artist in residence at hrm199 – an ongoing collaborative platform set up by Haroon Mirza conceived with the aim of inspiring people from a diverse range of disciplines to intertwine their practices and collaborate. This multi-sensory installation explores the effect of RGB lights pulsating at various frequencies associated to particular neural oscillations (brainwaves) in order to induce intense optical illusion of movement and pattern formations. The signals are also made audible to intensify the experience. 


Skip_loop (2019) shows an animation of a view of the sea and is a simulated rendering which is systematically processed. The digital reproduction of nature showing a realm of the naturally beautiful collapses in the six second interval (of the loop). Six seconds is a time-span that also tallies with the average viewing time for a painting or an artwork in a museum. Skip_loop presented in the exhibition is a new realisation of an existing work from 2005, and made specifically for John Hansard Gallery’s 6k screens.

The John Hansard Gallery is at 142-144 Above Bar, Southampton.