nicolas bernier
Selected performances and installations
Collaborative projects
Transfer for 10 synthesizers 
Music for 10 synthesizers, 2022
• Composition: Nicolas Bernier
• Performers: Marc-Antoine Bernier, Gabrielle Caux, Hubert Crépin, Mathieu Drolet, Gabriela Hébert, Rémy Jannelle, Loic Minty, Gael Moriceau, Zacharie Perreault-Samson, Charles St-André

Composition for 10 monophonic synthesizers performed by Ensemble d'oscillateurs. The ensemble directed by Nicolas Bernier at Université de Montréal is now collaborating with composers to expand the repertoire towards a variety musical outcomes that will grow over the next years.

Complete version is available here:
Ensemble d'oscillateurs 
Electronic music ensemble, 2016-Ongoing
• Direction: Nicolas Bernier
• Support: UdeM, FRQ-SC (2016-19)

The Oscillator Ensemble is an ongoing project initially thought as a space to think and explore the most basic sound: the sine wave. This 10 musicians electronic music ensemble stands at the antipode of the miniaturization of today's musical technologies: it is rather heavy post-wars oscillators that serves here as instruments. Taking inspiration in early electronic music (like Pauline Oliveros, Karlheinz Stockhausen), the ensemble is building a massive body of work including new pieces by Francisco Meirino, Kevin Gironnay, Xavier Ménard and a interpretation of Candas Sisman Syn-PHON.

The complete repertoire with scores, articles, tools is available on the Laboratoire formes • ondes website:
structures infinies ( ) 
light object, 2017-Ongoing
• Art direction and design: Nicolas Bernier
• Fabrication: Robocut
• Technical assistance: Pipo Pierre-Louis
• Production: Nicolas Bernier

Between the finite and the infinite, these miror structures are reflecting the outside world until they are set in motion to unveil a moving and infinite interior. Hidden inside are superimposed diagrams reinterpreting certain theories or hypotheses related to our scientific apprehension of the world. Between transcendental geometry, higher dimensions, finite and infinite, these structures arise as objects of reflection on what one understands, what one believes to understand and what one does not understand. The structure is thus refering to the finite physical structure that is encapsulating the infinity of intellectual structures created by the humankind.

Part of an ongoing series (objects are fabricated one by one on demand), this first structure is based on the Feynman Diagrams about quantum fields.


  Shorlisted, Aesthetica Art Prize 2018 / UK
  Available for acquisition:  
transfert (299 792 458 m/s) 
sound and light performance, 2017
• Art direction, design and sound composition: Nicolas Bernier
• Technical assistance: Pipo Pierre-Louis
• Production: Nicolas Bernier

transfert (299 792 458 m/s) is marking a shift from Nicolas Bernier's previous conceptual and rather minimalist series, frequencies. From the white scientific background, Bernier is now taking a turn towards science fiction and the oversweet 80s pop culture. The piece is driven by loads layered synthesizers recalling sci-fi soundtracks that are animating coloured neons at the speed of light. Somewhere between the spacetime travel light beams or the spaceship control panels and corridors, the 3 scenographic structures are moved by the artist, altering the perception of light and space.

transfert (299 792 458 m/s) is a hyperbolic, artificial science fiction scene.

  Finalist, Arte Laguna Prize, 2018 /IT  

Parallèle (299 792 458 m/s) 
sound and light environment, 2017
• Sound, light, scenography and art direction: Nicolas Bernier
• Technical assistance: Pipo Pierre-Louis, Daïmôn
• Production: Daïmôn, Nicolas Bernier

A clock tower of a former train station filled with smoke drifts and coloured lights is synced with a generative sci-fi inspired soundtrack. When the night takes over, this irregular object gradually appear within the urban landscape, acting as a metaphor of the surnatural, of parallel dimensions within our world. In a constant gaseous state, the object is unaccessible to anybody, but yet, its presence is strong. Somewhere between the sea of Solaris, the monolith of «2001» or Stranger Things' castle Byers, the self-generative audiovisual composition creates contrasting presence that seems to have its own life, opening a new perspective within the urban landscape. In situ: Hull, Québec.

 Commissioned by Daïmôn

Thanks to Raphaël Néron Baribeau for the invitation and to La petite G'ART and Daïmôn for their generosity.
frequencies (a / oscillation) 
Sound and light experiment, 2016
• Art direction and design: Nicolas Bernier
• Fabrication: Robocut
• Production: Nicolas Bernier

A laser beam is tracing a waveform on a wall by following the movement of a motorized rotating tuning fork. Usually associated with electronic and digital visualization, the waveform generated in frequencies (a / oscillation) is completely analogue: it shows the direct motion of the tuning fork by using the y axis (amplitude) activated by a solenoid combined by the x axis (time) generated by a step-motor. Thanks to the retinal stain, our perception will enable to visualize the movement, the waveform, traced the laser. The installation is drawing from the experiments of 19th century physicist Jules Lissajous who first discovered this method for visualizing sound.

  Long list, Aesthetica Art Prize, 2017 /UK  
  Acquisition in process  

frequencies (a / continuum) 
Sound and light instrument, 2016
• Art direction and design: Nicolas Bernier
• Fabrication: Robocut
• Technical assistance: Pipo Pierre-Louis
• Production: Nicolas Bernier

Seven electromagnetically driven tuning forks generating continuous acoustic drones by help of a custom keyboard/controller turning each frequencies on and off. The project is a poeticized take of the technical device invented in the late 19th century by physicist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) who created what can be seen as the very first synthesizer. Combining sound with slow light pulsation patterns, this acoustic additive synthesizer is creating a contemplative and intimate experience.

  Acquisition in process  
frequencies (a / friction) 
Sound and light experiment, 2015
• Art direction and design: Nicolas Bernier
• Fabrication: Robocut
• Technical assistance: Pipo Pierre-Louis
• Production: Nicolas Bernier

On a table is an old oscillator connected to a speaker and a 480 Hz tuning fork. The oscillator frequency is stable at 476 hz. When the tuning fork is aleatorically struck by the solenoid, a beating pattern appears. We then hear the friction between the two oscillations, the friction between the electronic and the acoustic, the friction between different periods of the history of sonic research. This humble piece is an homage to two people I admire : sound artist Alvin Lucier (1931-) who worked extensively with oscillators and physicist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1884) who used the tuning forks for sound analysis and who was among the first to theorize on the beating patterns between frequencies. _

  Permanent collection, Espace Gantner, Territoire de Belfort / FR

Merci à Caroline Traube (UdeM) pour le diapason.
frequencies (a / archives) 
Sound and light object, 2014
• Art direction, sound composition and design: Nicolas Bernier
• Vox: Dominique Bernard
• Fabrication: Robocut
• Technical assistance: Pipo Pierre-Louis
• Co-production: Electroni[k], Nicolas Bernier

Composition based on sounds from the scientific archives of Rennes 1 University (France), an impressive collection of antique scientific apparatus that includes one of the few remaining « Grand diapason » built by Rudolph Koenig circa 1880. This Grand diapason, resonating between 32 to 48 hertz, can (barely) be heard in the composition, among other sounds from the archives, mainly tuning forks. The piece could metaphorically be seen as a sonic bridge between past and present, as a lullaby in memory of those scientists, inventors and objects to whom we owe the history of sonic research.

The piece is meant for an intimate listening through a unique edition of a lightbox displaying a tuning fork recalling the sounds used in the composition.

 Commissioned by Electroni[k] /FR
  Available for acquisition:  
Merci à Caroline Traube (UdeM) pour le diapason.
frequencies (light quanta) 
Sound and light installation, 2014
• Art direction, visual design, sound, audiovisual programming: Nicolas Bernier
• Technical direction and fabrication: Robocut
• Financial support: Conseil des arts et de lettres Qu&eacutebec
• Co-production: LABoral (ES), Perte de Signal (CA), Maison des Arts de Créteil (FR), Nicolas Bernier (CA)

100 aleatoric sound and light fragments generating tridimensional patterns by superimposing 100 transparent laser cut acrylic panels. Taking the quantum —the smallest measurable value of energy— as his conceptual basis, the whole explore the metaphorical relationships between basic quantum physics principles applied to the audiovisual creative process: particles, probabilities, wave/particle duality and discontinuity. Structured around these notions, the audio-visual composition stems from 100 sound and light fragments that develop themselves organically, generating an ever expending but yet disruptive form in time and space.

  Collection, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec /CA  
  Collection, ZKM, Center for media art /DE  
  Short list, Aesthetica Art Prize, 2016 /UK  

frequencies (synthetic variations) 
Sound and light performance/installation, 2013
• Art direction, audiovisual composition and technical design : Nicolas Bernier
• Production : Nicolas Bernier

Audiovisual variations establishing dialogues between three artificial matters : synthetic sound, synthetic light and synthetic materials. The piece is made out of a series of sequences that are organized and unorganized in real-time, disruptively articulating the dicourse. In a synesthetic way, sound and light are bursting within acrylic structures, bringing a sense of extreme precision where one can either hear the light or see the sound.
CD published by Entr'acte

  FETA Prize in Sound Art 2014 / US
Produced in 2012/2013 during a residency at Daïmõn. Aknowledgements: Daïmõn, Entr'acte, Mutek, Perte de signal, University of huddersfield, Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture (fqrsc), Pierre alexandre tremblay.
frequencies (a) 
Sound and light performance, 2012
• Art direction, audiovisual composition, performance, programmation, technical design and some electronics : Nicolas Bernier
• Techical design : Olivier Lefebvre
• Fabrication : Laurent Loison
• Production : Nicolas Bernier

Sound performance combining the sound of mechanically triggered tuning forks with pure digital soundwaves. The performer is triggering sequences from the computer, activating solenoides that hits the tuning forks with high precision. Streams of light burst in synchronicity with the forks, creating a not-quite-minimal sound and light composition.

  Golden Nica, Prix Ars Electronica 2013 / AT
Produced between january 2011 and september 2012. Aknowledgements: Perte de signal, University of huddersfield, Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture (fqrsc), François Laflamme, Martin Messier, Samuel St-Aubin, Pierre Alexandre Tremblay. Thanks to the Canada Council for the Art for their support of the "projet diapason".
frequencies 1/t (composition no.1) 
Collage, 2011
• Collage : Nicolas Bernier
• Production : Nicolas Bernier

Taking its title from the mathematic formula of the frequency, this collage was the first step behind the creative process leading to the artistic cycle frequencies (2011-2018). Inhabiting the artist studio walls, the collage had the important role to remind the impulse behind an artistic transition from a more chaotic noise-based approach to a purer approach to sound and visual. The collage represents what would become the main matter of the frequencies series : white light, sinusoidal wave shapes, minimal art and scientific apparatus from the industrial eras. It is also aknowledging the inspiration from minimal artists like Donald Judd, Dan Flavin and Larry Bell, as well as early electronic composers like Pauline Oliveros and Karlheinz Stockhausen or readings like On The Sensation of Tone (1954) by Hermann von Helmholtz. The original visual sampling collage was destroyed when the artist moved from his studio but this photography then became the work itself.

  Présences, Collective exhibition, DAÏMÔN / CA

L'usure du clocher 
Sound sculpture, 2011
• Art direction and sound composition : Nicolas Bernier
• Technical direction : Francis Laporte
• Production : Nicolas Bernier

7 foot high aluminum structure holds three moving horn speakers. The motion of the speakers is a mechanical sway driven by motors. In this sound projection sculpture, the downward facing speakers evoke the church bells that produced the main sound material used for the audio composition. Nowadays — at least in north america, a belfry that wears out is a belfry that disappears, as an increasing number of them are replaced by electronic belfries.

 Commissioned by Erick d'Orion for the FIMAV Festival
Thanks to Laurier Gardner, Pierre Alexandre Tremblay Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture (fqrsc) .
Sound performance w/live electronics and intonarumori, 2008 (15')
• Art direction, composition and performance : Nicolas Bernier
• Intonarumori : Alexandre Landry
• Production : Nicolas Bernier

At the beginning of the 20th century, when Italian futurist Luigi Russolo began to include “noise” in musical composition, he created new musical instrument into boxes. These boxes called intonarumoris concealed mysterious mechanisms reminding today's black boxes used in electronic music : the computer. The box used in this performance is opened. The mechanisms are revealed, allowing a better understanding of the music created through the instrument.

 Commissioned by Erick d'Orion for the Mois Multi Festival

CD available at
Les arbres 
Music for live electronics and acoustic instruments instruments, 2008 (40')
• Art direction, sound composition and performance : Nicolas Bernier
• Visual : urban9
• Production : Nicolas Bernier
• Financial support : CAC

Soundscapes and slow, woven textures accompany precise articulations, all entwined in a minimalist orchestration of guitars, brass instruments, vibraphones, accordions and strings. Since I began working in electroacoustic music, I have tried to bring together digitally processed sound textures and traditional instruments. They include the complex tones and sophisticated treatment of materials from acousmatic music merged with the simple melodies often encountered in pop music.

 Mention, Prix Ars Electronica, 2009 / AT
  Prix Opus, CD of the year, 2010 / CA

Thanks to urban9, No Type and Mutek.