Disney Hall, in living color, as L.A. Phil turns 100

Architecture & Design · Music

Wow, wow, wow. This is fabulous. Our symphony orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic (founded in 1918), is blasting into its centenary season in high style. It is converting its Frank Gehry-designed building, a happy pile-up of undulating stainless-steel surfaces, into a huge projection surface. Disney Hall will pop with crazy purples, blues, pinks and other psychedelic shades that would make Jimi Hendrix green with envy.

For one week, award-winning media artist Refik Anadol will inaugurate the LA Phil’s 100-year anniversary celebration with ‘shows’ of his breathtaking, three-dimensional projections onto the landmark building’s steel exterior.

The projection show is comprised of a gabillion digital files — 45 terabytes of data —  culled from the Phil’s digital archives, both sound and image.

Using Google’s machine-intelligence tools, Anadol has applied custom algorithms to create a computerized “mind” to mimic how humans dream – by processing memories to form a new combination of images and ideas.

The concept is to awaken the metaphorical “consciousness” of Walt Disney Concert Hall. Wake up, Concert Hall! The result is a radical visualization of the Phil’s first century and an exploration of synergies between art and technology, and architecture and institutional memory. 

The free light show will enjoy nightly performances scheduled on the half hour, with the first at 7:30 pm, and last at 11:30 pm. The imagery is highly activated for 12 minutes and then, for the next 18, it moseys at a slower pace. Take your camera and go!

But don’t stay outside. Inside Walt Disney Concert Hall, visitors will be able to immerse themselves in a companion installation in the Ira Gershwin Gallery.

WDCH Dreams  | Walt Disney Concert Hall exterior | Sept 28 – Oct 6, nightly

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In memoriam: ‘Still trying to get Paul Taylor’s jump right’

Dance · Featured

Ed. note: A guest writer, Sean Mahoney, pictured above, submitted this personal reminiscence of his work with the great iconoclastic choreographer Paul Taylor (1930 – 2018). Mahoney, who began his association with the Taylor organization in 1994, has been a member of Paul Taylor Dance Company since 2004.

I was in rehearsal and Paul was slumped in his favorite chair, having his Nth cigarette. He asked me to do a jump that involved twisting my torso in one direction, my hips in another, my knees that way, my arms this way… I can’t remember how many attempts I made before my frustrated boss snuffed out his cigarette and got out of his chair. The room went dead silent.

As he stood, his “C”-curved spine straightened like a cobra getting ready to show its intimidating hood. He went from 5’10” to ‘6-foot-infinity.’ Because I watch nature programs, I knew to stand stock still. A cobra won’t strike unless provoked.

He walked over to me and quietly said, “like this,” then jumped in the air creating a shape that seemed to defy logic. “Okay?” he asked, not looking at me, and then shuffled back to his favorite chair to light another cigarette.

I still to this day have no idea what I witnessed. I gave his request yet another attempt. He smiled, gave me a wink, and continued onto the next set of dance moves. Did I do what he wanted? Did he give up and move on? Nobody could move like Paul. Nobody. What he wanted to see from me was intent and determination. While my shape in the air accomplished 80% of his goal, my determination to achieve his goal was exactly what he was looking for.

Paul isn’t a cobra. He’s the embodiment of whatever it takes to get his point across. He could play a momma bear. He could play a wolf. He could play a door mouse. He could play a shepherd. He was all of these things and he was none of them. He was, for better or for worse, inspirational.

I’m still trying to get that jump right.

Sean Mahoney is a member of Paul Taylor American Modern Dance.

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