The Airship Orchestra by Melbourne art and technology company ENESS is reinvigorating cities across the world with a spectacular immersive art experience. The temporary artwork is a mystical tribe of 16 otherworldly inflatable sculptures (some up to six metres) all supported by a fully networked internal system of motion sensors enabling its characters to respond to passers-by; behave as a choir and ‘compose’ a fresh, generative score each night.
‘Beamed from the night stars, skin streaked with galaxy and voices like stardust’, the artwork includes a generative soundscape synced with light that spans over a 500 square metre area – an adventure that is aesthetically dynamic both day and night. The Airship Orchestra’s sound experience is its own spatial environment, immersing visitors in an arresting score written character-by-character for a full choir.
“The artwork was developed with certain characters taking vocal positions like tenors, baritones or sopranos. The notes produced are playing in real time, and then as visitors interact with characters, the sound evolves. To do that based on the principle of a ‘choir’ with characters having their own individual voices is really complex,” Artist and ENESS Founder, Nimrod Weis said.
Under the stewardship of Weis, Melbourne-based art and technology company ENESS has been creating new types of connection in our cities for the last two decades, with the primary creative purpose of stimulating cross-generational connection and joy in public space.
This is achieved through various techniques including ‘mash-ups’ of tech elements – such as the inclusion of LED eyes – with softer materiality like organic forms and anthropomorphised characters. “As with all our work, there are intriguing details to discover such as friendly LED eyes that blink and follow visitors from creature to creature and these artful moments are underscored by rousing, rising rhythm that transports participants to another world,” Weis said.
This combination of approachable technology and relatable but naïve aesthetic tends to bring out the child in everyone; stimulating playfulness in a way that loosens up behaviour and introduces unexpected delight into people’s experiences of public spaces. But it is not just the public realm that is transformed by this immersive experience, it is how people respond to technology-driven art and sculpture particularly when it appears in unconventional spaces.
Although the studio works in many mediums including LEDs for permanent public art, Weis’s particular fascination with inflatables relates to their ephemerality; enabling him to combine textile patterns; the DNA of ceramic forms; as well as abstracted, simplified flora and fauna in a way that creates a new visual vernacular. At the heart of every ENESS inflatable sculpture lies a sweet simplicity; a storybook style language that opens the hearts and minds of all ages. “That’s the really amazing thing about ENESS, we are a collective; so we have musicians, industrial designers, programmers, a writer – there are so many disciplines internally – so it’s not just one mind that is producing the outcome.”
What was the brief?
This was a self-initiated project. Artist and founder Nimrod Weis designed the Airship Orchestra and then we pitched it to public realm spaces as a temporary installation.
What were the key challenges?
Time frames are always a key challenge but ENESS has a dedicated team and we always deliver.
What materials did you choose and why?
Our temporary art installations are usually ‘mash-ups’ of tech elements – such as the inclusion of LED eyes – with softer materiality like organic forms. Artist and founder, Nimrod Weis has a current fascination with the flexibility of inflatables.