For four days in late April, more than 3,500 visitors experienced a 35-minute multisensory art installation called “An Encounter with Lux Prima.”
Conceived by Karen O and Danger Mouse as an immersive introduction to their new album collaboration, the event – sixteen sessions in all – was held at the Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles.
Audiences were fully enveloped by a custom-built spatial sound system from Meyer Sound, experiencing both music and effects ‘to the bone’ with infrasonic waves emanating from three VLFC very low frequency control elements.
The formative concept behind “An Encounter with Lux Prima” was put forth by the artists as a means to involve the audience in the sensory and emotional content of the music in an environment that transcended the limitations of a stage performance. To carry their concept to fruition they enlisted a core team of collaborators that included – among others – creative director Barnaby Clay, producer Mungo Maclagan, sound designer Ren Klyce of Skywalker Sound (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Fight Club), lighting designer Tobias Rylander, visual artist Davy Evans, as well as executive producers like Mgmt.
To expand the stereo album music into a fully immersive experience, Ren Klyce was given the multitrack master files from which he created a 7.1 mix, augmented by additional object-oriented spatial sound elements. To extend the overall experience, Klyce created his own sound design elements as segues between songs. Meyer Sound loudspeakers were employed during the creative process from the outset, first at Klyce’s own post-production facility, and again for the final pre-mixes at Skywalker Sound.
In parallel with Klyce’s sound design, the visual arts side of the team had sketched out an elemental design centered on a massive, irregular stone monolith sitting atop a triangular base. The audience would be seated around it on sections of real lawn, with dynamic lighting and mapped projections illuminating both the monolith and surrounding walls.
“As soon as I came on board I insisted this had to be a turnkey Meyer Sound solution,” said Skywalker Sound engineer Brian Long. “Meyer is the only company that could handle this kind of project with a fully integrated approach.”
Working in consultation with Meyer Sound’s Director of Strategic Applications Michael Maxson and Director of System Optimization Bob McCarthy, Long devised a tightly-packed LCR layout for each side of the triangular base. Twelve UPQ-1P loudspeakers supplied the full-range LCR program (one each for R and L and two for C per side), with an additional UPQ-1P overhead. Also packed inside were six 900-LFC low frequency control elements for deep bass plus the elemental infrasonic force of three VLFC very low frequency control elements. The four surround channels each employed two UPQ-2P loudspeakers.
“The reaction was resoundingly positive every time,” said Maclagan. “Everybody was absolutely spellbound by the experience. The audiences were totally engaged throughout the entire 35 minutes. David Lynch came down for one show and said, ‘Wow, you’ve blown my mind.’ That was a high accolade indeed!”
In addition to the main system, a small pre-show system was deployed in the lobby area with four UPJ-1P loudspeakers. Prior to opening, an invitation-only live performance by Karen O and Danger Mouse for 400 celebrity guests was reinforced by eight MINA line array loudspeakers plus four 750-LFC low frequency control elements.