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Light Waves Move in a Projection-Mapped Orchestral Performance

In ‘SIM/NEBULA,’ Antonín Dvořák's "The Symphony No. 9" gets updated for a cybernetic future.
Screencap by the author

Attempts at modifying the classical orchestral music experience with modern or futuristic visuals are fraught with peril. Executed poorly, it’s forced and cheesy. Done well, it’s gorgeous, mind-melting, and inspiring. And that’s what we have here with SIM/NEBULA, an 45-minute projection mapping performance for SIGNAL Festival that pairs immersive visuals with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

11 international artists collaborated with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for SIM/NEBULA, working across seven sections/themes, including Matter, Message, Mission, New World, Rendezvous, and Birth. Can Buyukberber, working alongside Amar Mulabegovic (The Macula), Osman Koc, and Federico Pelat, conceived the visuals for Part 3: Message and Part 4: Mission. Buyukberber describes the projections as “45 minutes of expressively futuristic visual poems, shaping the emergence of cybernetic organism counting down its time code in live acoustic waves of classical music.”


Sim/Nebula | Pt.03: Message from Can Buyukberber on Vimeo.

The orchestra, conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek, performed Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 "From the New World" (also known as “New World Symphony”), composed in 1893 while Dvořák was the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America. The orchestra featured 118 musicians performing amidst visual effects and motion graphics thrown onto the Rudolfinum walls, with 10 x 20k projectors on the front, sides, and ceiling of the auditorium.

In watching the audiovisual performance, one can’t help but think of quantum mechanics—how light can take both wave and particle forms. And with sound being wavelengths as well, the visuals almost seem to expose the hidden architecture of a quantum universe. All in all, it’s a very moving piece of past and future colliding inside our possibly holographic universe.

Click here to learn more about Signal Festival.


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