Making Music People Can See

  • PARTNER: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

    GOAL: Demonstrate how wearable technology can add a new sensory layer to the live performance experience

    APPROACH: Analyzing the physical movement of musicians from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as they performed, students from Parsons School of Design and Mannes School of Music teamed up to construct prototypes of innovative, sustainable, wearable technologies that could project illuminations in sync with the musicians' movement and the music.

    OUTCOME: Drawing upon The New School’s tradition of breaking with tradition, an interdisciplinary class partnered with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to develop tech-enabled garments that explore the intersections of performance, fashion, design, sight, and sound.

    Using a cutting-edge 3-D body scanner, students created wearable technologies that, while utilitarian, could translate musicians’ movements into a multisensory light show, creating visual effects in sync with the composition and allowing participants to hear colors and see sounds. Audiences saw a syncopated piano march shooting red crystals across a performer’s all-white cape and brightly colored geometric forms projected onto elegant gowns and dancing along with the rhythm of a drummer's beat.

    The result was a fully immersive experience that transcended norms and broke down barriers separating musicians from their audience.

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