Can light transform a city’s skyline, create a “collective sensorial experience,” and sync to original music on people’s smartphones? That’s the central question behind NEWT, an interactive architectural installation that appeared in Miami for five days in November on the InterContinental Hotel's 19-story LED wall.
Ordinarily, the building features a digital woman dancing provacatively. NEWT’s creators aimed to turn the LED wall into “performative architecture” inspired by Isaac Newton’s theory that each primary color is connected to a musical note. To that end, the installation featured rapid motion animation and original musical compositions.
The idea—and it’s definitely an inspired one—is that people could experience NEWT collectively and individually. Those in close proximity to the InterContinental LED wall experienced it collectively from a variety of vantage points. And those with smartphones were able to download a free app that streamed the “visual symphony” in real time, wherever they might be.
“[L]ookout points throughout Miami and the Beaches will offer diverse communities a view of dynamic shapes and hues, screened on the hotel building's 364 sq. ft. outdoor facade,” NEWT’s co-creators Dejha Carrington and Kelly Nunes announced. “By integrating mobile technology into this installation, viewers can connect to a live stream of synchronized music via their smartphones and web-enabled devices. Every image and sound is combined for a heightened sensorial effect, bridging audiences through a shared creative experience.”
Created with funds raised on Kickstarter, NEWT was the winner of the 2015 Public Space Challenge, a program by The Miami Foundation. The ambitious augmented architectural installation was considered unique in that it tipped its hat to Miami’s burgeoning artistic and tech communities, while acknowledging the dream of Isamu Noguchi, an architect who intended for the Bayfront Park—the public space adjacent to the InterContinental—to be a communal space and “networking point” for the city.