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The Space: Universe of Sound

  • Date: 25 July 2013
  • Artform: None
  • Area: National
Violin with camera attached to the end Universe of Sound: The Planets was an interactive digital installation at the Science Museum, photographer: B Ealovega

Universe of Sound: The Planets was an interactive digital installation at the Science Museum that allowed visitors to explore an orchestra 'from the inside out' as they performed Holst's The Planets.

Visitors to the museum had the opportunity to conduct, play and step inside a virtual Philharmonia Orchestra, joining 132 musicians and the orchestra's principal conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, performing Holst's popular suite.

Visitors to The Space watched movements of The Planets unfold and selected their own camera angles and dynamics. In addition, behind the scenes material included a documentary of the creative process for Universe of Sound and interviews with the creative team, Esa-Pekka Salonen and musicians.

Key challenges and learnings

The key challenges and learnings for the Philharmonia Orchestra included:

  • Adapting and creating online content for The Space, whilst managing a complex physical installation in the museum
  • Managing the increase in workload for their small digital team
  • Understanding the complicated rights clearance and contractual agreements needed
  • Producing the digital workflow for the video production from the large quantities of footage

Impact

  • Attracted new audiences to Philharmonia Orchestra's website to experience the installation online
  • Allowed those who had visited the physical installation to continue their experience
  • Helped to develop the digital team's skills. Richard Slaney, the Philharmonia's Head of Digital said: "The training the digital team received as part of the project helped them develop further and will enable them to move forward in their respective careers within the Orchestra, and help the growing demands on the digital staff to lead smaller production teams independently."

Successes

Successes of the project include:

  • Reaching a wide UK and global audience. Web analytics show that visitors from across the world logged onto The Space website to experience the Universe of Sound
  • The in-depth documentary explaining the project which was put together with support from The Space was a useful advocacy tool for the work of the digital department
  • The Space project training programme helped build capacity: "The training programme that the digital team participated in as part of the project was very useful, and we would welcome the opportunity to take part in more training like this in the future", added Slaney.

Legacy

Research from the independently commissioned evaluations found that some interviewees viewed the Philharmonia project as one of the most unique and interesting projects on The Space, praising the inventiveness of the idea as something that has not been seen elsewhere online. One commented, "It's using digital to create a new experience of a live event - it's doing something new with something that already exists." (Quote from the summary evaluation of The Space pilot).

The Philharmonia Orchestra see the project's legacy as giving them a new and planned approach to working with digital content. Slaney says, "The Space will undoubtedly have an effect on how we work with digital content in the future".

Slaney hopes that there will be a chance for further collaboration in the future. He says:
"Despite the obvious challenges of creating and adapting our content for The Space, we have really enjoyed the collaboration, and would like to continue our relationship in the future. The service has the potential to become very powerful within the UK and international arts scene, and we would welcome the opportunity to further discuss our collaboration and ways in which The Space and arts organisations can develop together."