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Live Sound

NYC’s ArTecHouse Gets Immersive Underground

By Clive Young. ArTecHouse, a new permanent digital art installation space, opened in September at New York City’s Chelsea Market, where its careening, AI-fueled visuals are emboldened by a sizable 30.1 immersive audio system.

New York, NY (October 23, 2019)—The term “jaw-dropping” doesn’t do justice to the new ArTecHouse digital art space located beneath Chelsea Market in the massive building’s former boiler room. New York City’s first permanent venue constructed solely for new media art, ArTecHouse opened its doors in September, kicking off with Machine Hallucination, a flowing, ebbing, pulsing immersive work by Los Angeles-based digital artist Refik Anadol that surrounds visitors with stylized visuals and a fluctuating soundscape to match.

The site isn’t ArTecHouse’s first endeavor—it has similar locations in Washington, D.C., and Miami—but the New York space is its most technologically ambitious to date, and Anadol’s Machine Hallucination pushes the equipment available, creating ever-changing visuals based on more than 300 million images scraped from social networks and historical records of New York City, all analyzed using artificial intelligence to create new graphics.

The visuals, mapped to every wall and pillar in the space, are enacted using Barco-powered, 16K resolution, 150-megapixel laser projection technology, reportedly resulting in the largest seamless megapixel count currently in use by a cultural institution. At the same time, the digital art space is the first of its kind to use L-Acoustics’ L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound technology, providing audio across 32 separate channels to create a multidimensional sound experience.

“We designed the system for the space back in February, spending a couple of months going through it with the venue owners and talking about what sort of things might come through the space in the future, not just the inaugural installation,” said Jesse Stevens, application engineer, USA/Canada, L-Acoustics.

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The result is a 30.1 system with 30 independent channels presented through 20 L-Acoustics X8 speakers placed around the perimeter of the space, and another 10 smaller 5XT speakers located directly overhead, placed down the center of the room. The setup is supplemented by two SB15m subs in the middle of the room. Powering the entire system are a half-dozen LA4x amplifiers.

The creative possibilities the extensive system brings to the table are not lost on artists. “We are adapting their scores to the space, and they’re not used to such an immersive and detailed system,” said Stevens. “They’re used to a general left-right, maybe three or four channels if they’re lucky. To come in here and have 30 channels to work with in ultra-high resolution, and to be able to place objects anywhere in the space is a great creative treat for the artists.”

Kerim Karaoglu, Refik Anadol’s composer for Machine Hallucination, came into the space with his compositions prepped in Apple Logic Pro. Stevens noted, “We used the L-Acoustics L-ISA source control plug-in for digital audio workstations; it controls lead sources so that they can move all the objects with automation in the session itself. Once we showed them what was possible, they were able to take the mix they had and adapt it to this high-resolution space, where they can make sounds go all around you and in every direction.”

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Despite time constraints for getting the immersive mix completed on site in a space where the artist and contractors were all racing to complete their respective installations in time for ArTecHouse’s grand opening, Karaoglu had a straightforward experience mixing in 30.1. “It was actually pretty easy,” said Karaoglu. “Working in an immersive room, it was really helpful to use the L-ISA system because you just have to get it in front of you [in the space] and it opens up the barriers and helps you to get inside the mix.”

ArTecHouse •

L-Acoustics •