For New York's new festival, an immersion in art

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES, Shaun Tandon- The latest entrant to the fast-growing global festival calendar is moving beyond crowd-pleasing rock acts, offering a New York audience an immersion in art and technology.
Panorama -- put together by the promoters of Coachella, the California festival that is among the world's most lucrative music events -- opened Friday in Randalls Island off the city's East River for a three-day run.

The inaugural day featured high-energy electronic act Major Lazer, a festival favorite among young fans, as well as FKA twigs, who turned her set into a riveting contemporary dance piece.
Alabama Shakes, the bluesy rockers driven by Brittany Howard's thundering voice, also played the opening night which culminated with indie rockers Arcade Fire leading a New Orleans-style brass procession through the crowd of songs by their mentor David Bowie.
Yet with the number of festivals quickly growing, Panorama has sought to distinguish itself with a focus on the quirky and high-tech.
In a kind of virtual graffiti, artists under the hot sun spray-painted a canvas, with their designs projected through a vast screen onto a simulated New York subway car.
- Surprise venue for art -
In one of the festival's most popular attractions, a 21-meter (70-foot) dome in the style of a planetarium brought in dozens of fans at a time who lay down to gaze at free-flowing abstract videos amid a wall of sound.
The dome, which was also covered by fluid projections on the outside, was the highlight of "The Lab," the festival's exhibition of interactive works by New York-based artists.
Zach Lieberman, whose piece "Reflection Study" employs computer coding to let audiences create their own displays by manipulating shapes on a special light board, relished the surprise factor as festival goers discovered his work by chance.
"You go to a museum and you know you're going to see art," he said in a video to accompany his piece.
"When I'm doing this animation, when I'm doing these software studies, for me, it's a form of music," he said.
Another piece, "Giant Gestures" by Phil Sierzega and Charlie Whitney, played on the modern-day love affair with smartphones by creating an interface that responds not to a swipe of a finger but to oversized hands made of foam.
Artistic team Future Wife built a bounce castle of the sort enjoyed by children -- but designed for adults with interactive sensors and an aesthetic that resembles intestines.
- Festival calendar keeps growing -
Panorama brought numerous touches from Coachella, which takes place each April in the heat of the California desert, including a sun-shielding pavilion over one stage -- a welcome feature on a weekend when temperatures are set to reach 36 Celsius (97 Fahrenheit).
The new festival also featured two air-conditioned dance stages, one a fog-filled and powerfully amplified floor that evoked the disco era and another that brought in prominent DJs.
Among them was Mike D, one-third of New York rap pioneers the Beastie Boys. The now 50-year-old Mike D mixed tracks from younger hip-hop stars including Kanye West and M.I.A., while going back to classic acts such as A Tribe Called Quest, while occasionally taking the microphone in his instantly recognizable bellowing voice.
New festivals have been growing at a breakneck pace in the past several years, becoming a key summer experience for the millennial generation and a crucial revenue stream for the music industry.
New York's Governors Ball, which launched in 2011 and also takes place on Randalls Island, had objected to Los Angeles-based Coachella promoter Goldenvoice's arrival with Panorama, arguing that the metropolis could not support two large-scale festivals.
In a cruel twist of fate, Governors Ball last month was forced to cancel its final day with a highly anticipated performance by West due to predictions of thunderstorms.
Governors Ball has swung back by creating yet another festival, The Meadows, which will take place October 1-2 and bring back West.

Saturday, July 23rd 2016

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