The Los Angeles Philharmonic has commissioned award-winning media artist Refik Anadol to create unprecedented, breathtaking, three-dimensional projections onto the steel exterior of Walt Disney Concert Hall to signal the commencement of the LA Phil’s 100-year anniversary celebrations. Free and open to the public, nightly performances are scheduled to occur every half hour, with the first performance at 7:30 p.m., and the last at 11:30 p.m., September 28 to October 6.
To make Walt Disney Concert Hall “dream,” Anadol utilized a creative, computerized “mind” to mimic how humans dream – by processing memories to form a new combination of images and ideas. To accomplish this, Anadol worked with the Artists and Machine Intelligence program at Google Arts and Culture to apply machine intelligence to the orchestra’s digital archives – nearly 45 terabytes of data – 587,763 image files, 1,880 video files, 1,483 metadata files, and 17,773 audio files (the equivalent of 40,000 hours of audio from 16,471 performances). The files were parsed into millions of data points that were then categorized by hundreds of attributes, by deep neural networks with the capacity to both remember the totality of the LA Phil’s “memories” and create new connections between them. This “data universe” is Anadol’s material, and machine intelligence is his artistic collaborator. Together, they create something new in image and sound by awakening the metaphorical “consciousness” of Walt Disney Concert Hall. The result is a radical visualization of the organization’s first century and an exploration of synergies between art and technology, and architecture and institutional memory.
To actualize this vision, Anadol is employing 42 large scale projectors, with 50K visual resolution, 8-channel sound, and 1.2M luminance in total. The resulting patterns, or “data sculptures” formed by the machine’s interpretation of the archives will be displayed directly onto the undulating stainless-steel exterior of Walt Disney Concert Hall.
WDCH Dreams’ accompanying soundtrack was created from hand-picked audio from the LA Phil’s archival recordings. Sound designers Parag K. Mital, Robert Thomas, and Kerim Karaoglu augmented these selections by using machine-learning algorithms to find similar performances recorded throughout the LA Phil’s history, creating a unique exploration of historic audio recordings. Viewers can access the soundtrack at the LA Phil’s website laphil.com/wdchdreams.
Inside Walt Disney Concert Hall, in the Ira Gershwin Gallery, is an immersive and interactive companion installation, offering a unique, one-on-one experience for each gallery visitor. The exhibition presents the entire LA Phil digital archives in a non-linear fashion. The visitor, via a touchscreen interface, can interact with the archives in multiple ways: via a sunburst timeline; through curated moments highlighting milestones in the LA Phil’s 100-year history; and by delving into to the entire data universe that can be uniquely manipulated by each gallery visitor. The space will be re-imagined as a mirrored U-shaped room with two-channel projection. Visuals will be projected onto the mirrored surface giving the visitor a truly immersive, 360-degree experience.
The Ira Gershwin Gallery opens to the public on September 28 and will remain open throughout the Centennial season. Visitors can reserve times to access the gallery via The Music Center’s self-guided tour schedule weekdays from 10am – 3pm. Ticket holders to any concert during the Centennial season can access the gallery 90 minutes prior to performances.
As a part of the Centennial celebrations, the LA Phil will make a selection of its archives, and online exhibitions, available on Google Arts & Culture, exploring how WDCH Dreams was made, with behind-the-scenes footage and a short film about the development of the project.