WDCH Dreams

Merit Award 2019

Refik Anadol Studio was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic as part of their centennial celebration. The goal was to create a project that would engage the city and its inhabitants.To make the exterior of 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.

Anadol worked with the Artists and Machine Intelligence program at Google Arts and Culture and researcher Parag K. Mital 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” was Anadol’s raw material, and machine intelligence was his artistic collaborator. Together, they created 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, architecture and institutional memory.

Anadol employed 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 were displayed directly onto the undulating stainless-steel exterior of Walt Disney Concert Hall.

WDCH Dreams’ accompanying soundtrack was created from hand-picked archival audio. Sound designers 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. The performance ran from Sept. 27th until Oct. 6th, 2018, every half hour from 7-11pm. The project could be viewed from the parking lot adjacent to the concert hall, on the sidewalks, in a passing car, or from a neighboring building at no cost and without the need for a ticket.

Inside Walt Disney Concert Hall, in the Ira Gershwin Gallery, an immersive and interactive companion installation offers a unique, one-on-one experience for each gallery visitor. 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 is re-imagined as a mirrored U-shaped room with two-channel projection. Visuals are projected onto the mirrored surface giving the visitor a truly immersive, 360-degree experience.

As both a week-long public art installation and a season-long immersive exhibition, this project served to draw tens of thousands of new spectators to the LA Phil, helping to position it as a forward-facing institution that is invested in moving culture forward and facilitating the production of new works.

Jury Comments: 

"I don’t pretend to understand the algorithmic or machine learning complexities behind the media programming or projection mapping, and frankly I don’t care. The artistic and viscerally powerful impact of this 'show' are enough to win my vote."

"Delightfully adds visual life, energy and story to a delightful structure that already has visual life, energy and story."

Design Firms: 

Refik Anadol Studio

Client: 

Los Angeles Philharmonic

Open Date: 

September 2018

Project Budget: 

$500,000

Photo Credits: 

Refik Anadol Studio

Design Team: 

Refik Anadol (director); Carrie He, Christina Moushoul, Efsun Erkilic, Kian Khiaban, Ho Man Leung, Nate Mohler, Raman Mustafa (designers); Nicholas Boss (data scientist); Toby Heinemann (generative designer)

Consultants: 

Adam Roberts, AnalogNative, Bahadir Dagdelen, David Gann, Gokhan Dogan, Kenric McDowell, Kerim Karaoglu, Kyle McLean, Parag Mital, Robert Thomas, Ross Goodwin, schnellebuntebilder, Yusuf Emre Kucur

Fabricators: 

VER (projector rental)

Related Links: 

New Member Offer

Click to access the 2019 "Never been an SEGD member before" $185 sign up offer

Upcoming SEGD Events

2019 SEGD Wayfinding & Placemaking Banner
2019 SEGD Xlab Banner