It's here! This weekend marks the first-ever Panorama festival in New York City. Three days celebrating music, art, and technology. A festival made in partnership with us!
In addition to a great musical lineup that includes Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem, Sia, Alabama Shakes, and Arcade Fire (to name just a few), Panorama will also be home to The Lab, a massive interactive art exhibit made by a collective of talented and forward-thinking New York-based artists, all powered by our sponsor HP. We've been on Randall's Island for a few days watching everything get put together; it's a truly impressive creation we're proud to be a part of.
If you're coming to Randall's Island this week — and you really should, because we'll be there, too — this is what you can expect to see at The Lab.
Justin Bolognino, whose company META.is designed and curated The Lab, thinks a lot about how to make the virtual reality experience more social. "I've become obsessed with domes for the last few years," said Bolognino. "I think VR is incredible, but I think it's for your couch... That photo of Zuckerberg with the headsets" — referencing the now-infamous photo of the Facebook founder walking triumphantly through a sea of VR-clad attendees earlier this year — "that's hell for me."
The 70-foot dome will allow hundreds of festivalgoers to simultaneously experience the same 360-degree video experience, with audio by Antfood and visuals made in collaboration by Dirt Empire and Invisible Light Network. "For me, The Dome is a lot like the giant planetariums we'd go to when we were kids," said Elliot Kealoha Blanchard of ILN. "The image just spreads around you. You're not constricted at all, and you're with these other people." To create an engrossing audio for The Dome — "massive gestures of sounds bouncing around" — Antfood utilized a technique called ambisonics, originally developed in the UK in the 1970s.
Multiple times per day, The Dome will be taken over by Cotton Candy Universe, an interactive performance developed by Emilie Baltz and Philp Sierzega (with creative coding by Charlie Whitney and audio composition by Antfood). The 30-minute performance will utilize the full Dome experience and will use cotton candy to create a theremin-like musical experience.
"I'm not knocking VR, but you don't hang a picture frame on the side of a building 20 stories up. It doesn't make sense. Just like you don't put a VR headset in public. You can, but I think putting hundreds of people in an immersive environment is gonna have a lot more energy to it." Dirt Empire's Nicholas Rubin added, "In a dome, you walk around and you're there sharing a visual experience with other people, so it's a little more like theater."
The Facade... and our new statue!
The first thing you'll notice when you arrive is The Facade, which encompasses the entire exterior of The Lab. Produced by VolvoxLabs, The Facade features a montage of ultra-high-definition visuals, video projection-mapped onto its surface, evoking both natural and futuristic elements in a scene that's dynamically driven by the volume of tweets and Instagram photos generated on Randall's Island throughout the festival. "What we want to do," said creative director Kamil Nawratil, "is introduce natural elements that are symbiotic with the geometry of the piece and grows as times goes by."
Another highlight of the entrance? Our shiny new statue:
The final piece of The Lab puzzle is the exhibit tent, featuring a number of interactive installations (we've been profiling the artists behind these for several weeks now):
Future Wife - Visceral Recess
In 1971, design group Ant Farm published the Inflatocookbook, ostensibly a manual for how to make inflatable architectural performances. Ant Farm's work served as both inspiration and guideposts for Future Wife co-founder Beau Burrows. His latest work, Visceral Recess, is in many ways a bounce castle for adults, but one fitted with a number of sensors and technology that react to any movements inside the piece (which, by the way, intentionally looks like abstract intestines).
"For me, I'm really attracted to things like bioluminescence and deep-sea creatures," Burrows said. "Stuff that looks like you should be able to touch it and play with it, and it should interact with you." Visceral Recess is constructed using specialized fabrics designed to showcase the lights both inside and out the tubes, while special motion sensors help shape the lights and sounds based on how you interact with this demon thing. — Ross Miller
Dave and Gabe - Hyper Thread
Dave Rife and Gabe Liberti are an artistic duo united by sound. Rife was an expert in architectural acoustics, helping to design the way sound would ebb and flow through buildings. And Liberti was a studio engineer, helping to craft the sonic signature of full-length albums. Both had a deep love for working with sound but a frustration with the lengthy process of taking their product from start to finish. And so they decided to join forces.
With Hyper Thread, participants enter in a silk-clad dome where a specially buffered portal washes clean their sonic palate. If you've have a little too much loud rock and roll, this is the chill tent-within-a-lab for you. Inside the space are seven silk hammocks, each with a cushioned seat. That seat is full of sensors that detect your movement. As you and those around you swing, your actions modify parts of seven songs that cycle through the experience. — Ben Popper
Gabriel Pulecio - Infinite Wall
Something fundamental is lost when reproduced in a photo or on a screen — seeing Beyoncé live is different than watching Lemonade, for instance. The stakes only get higher with interactive art. Walking into a space that responds to your presence effectively makes you a part of the piece itself. It's hard to appreciate that kind of work on your MacBook. You need to be there.
Brooklyn-based artist Gabriel Pulecio makes installations and interactive sculptures using 3D-printed materials and computers to blend the physical with the digital. Pulecio's mission is to make art an experience that connects people, and he uses technology to achieve that. His latest piece, the Infinite Wall, is a tunnel lined with mirrors, lights, and an array of Kinect sensors — all of which come together to make seemingly infinite reflections in all directions. Do you feel like you're floating? That's exactly the point. — Kwame Opam
Mountain Gods - Giant Gestures
We gesture every day. We swipe to unlock, tap to click, and pinch to zoom in on a photo. We used to turn keys to dial on a rotary phone, but that gesture died a long time ago. With new technology comes new ways to interact with it, and most of the time, we don't realize what we're doing. This isn't the case for Brooklyn-based artists Phil Sierzega and Charlie Whitney. They're well aware of the gestures they use to operate their devices and think those mini actions warrant attention.
This is Giant Gestures. Festival attendees will use massive foam hands to play games on an equally massive tablet. Giant Gestures isn't a memorialization of how we interact with technology today, but rather a "reinterpretation" of it, the artists said. The gestures change meaning when taken out of context, and users will recognize what basically amounts to a daily performance. Maybe a swipe won't seem so simple anymore. — Ashley Carman
Red Paper Heart - Art of Pinball
The Lab is full of light projections, trippy tunnels, and even interactive bounce castles. There will also be pinball.
That's thanks to Red Paper Heart, a small Brooklyn studio that's transforming a 1970s pinball machine into a tool for creating digital art. "Things like pinball get people over the seriousness of artwork," says creative director Zander Brimijoin. "People love pinball, so they instantly have an emotional attachment to it, and we can use that to create this amazing experience."
"As [people] play they're gonna be creating these kind of larger than life animations," Brimijoin says. "And by doing so, they're gonna be sort of like a concert pianist, but for pinball." — Jake Kastrenakes
Zach Lieberman - Reflection Study
Brooklyn-based artist Zach Lieberman thinks a lot about what he calls "code poetics," the idea that code is capable of behaving like poetry. Reflection Study, Lieberman's installation here at The Lab, utilizes the properties of light, geometry, and Lieberman's own software to project unique designs onto any surface. The installation is composed of a light table with a camera set up above it, and dozens of pieces of plexiglass in various shapes and letters. As people move the plexiglass pieces over the light box, different formations will be projected onto a wall. These formations are imagined by a DIY software that analyzes data from the camera.
"For these kinds of projects I really love having them in a festival," Lieberman said. "Having them in a place where it's unexpected to encounter art... When I'm doing this animation, when I'm doing these software studies, for me, it's a form of music." — Lizzie Plaugic