The first week of December marked the beginning of the LA Philharmonic’s in/SIGHT concert series. The multimedia series will incorporate video images playing in sync with the performance, creating an immersive new way to experience the music for concert-goers. The first of these performances was the collaborative work of conductor Esa-pekka Salonen and artist Refik Anadol in an audio-visual rendition of Edgard Varèse’s Amériques. Using audio analysis and Kinect motion capture software to record Salonen’s movements while conducting, Anadol has created a stunning set of moving images that capture the very spirit of Varèse’s work. Learn more about this fascinating project, after the break.
Anadol’s visual accompaniment for Amériques is the result of three months of hard work from a team of designers, animators, and musicians. The process involved not only analyzing Varèse’s music, but the space in which the images would be projected. Frank Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall, home of the LA Philharmonic, offered Anadol a rich and varied canvas on which to display his work. Contrary to other artists booked for the series, he decided to stage his visuals directly on the walls of the concert hall. A model of the interior space was used to map how the images would appear on the serpentine stage and balconies. Such a large performance space also necessitated large projection equipment—the project required a 35,000 lumen projector to create images of an appropriate size.
Amériques is the first piece Varèse wrote in America and, fittingly, this is Anadol’s first project in the U.S. During the performance, patrons are witness to rapidly shifting fields of geometries, bright bursts of light, and sequences that resemble both cityscapes and neural pathways. This, as Anadol describes it, is a retelling of Varèse’s own inspiration upon his arrival in America:
“Translating the musical symbols into moments of visual epiphany, this project re-tells the story that Varèse presents in his piece. Varèse first intends to explore ‘new worlds on earth’ and I create a fleeting aura of New York by combining the architectural structure of the interior space with projections of a representation of the sensory moment when Varèse first encountered New York. This walk marks the second portion of the project/story entitled 'discoveries on earth' or what I would like to re-name as ‘through the tunnels of the mind.’ These tunnels enable me to re-imagine the interior architecture as a canvas and light as a material.” Anadol hopes that the abstractions he presents on the walls of Gehry’s concert hall will get the public to think more about architecture’s interconnectedness with art and the creative possibilities that entails.